Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Assistant coach Thomas has very fond memories of Anaheim

Short shift w/ C Valtteri Filppula

Must-TiVo TV show: That's tough. I watch a lot of shows. I'd go with Suits.

Favorite movie: Usual Suspects

Your go-to spot in Tampa: CineBistro (movie theater in South Tampa)

Next-best sport: Tennis

Top non-hockey sporting events you've attended: I've been to Wimbledon and U.S. Open.

Flashback of the week

The Lightning's trip to Anaheim last week brought back memories for assistant coach Steve Thomas.

Great memories.

Thomas, 52, smiled as he recalled how he was traded from Chicago to the Ducks at the 2003 deadline, then reaching his first Stanley Cup final. He spent just three months with the Ducks, but he made them count.

"Unbelievable ride," Thomas said. "And unexpected."

Thomas said it was the only time in his career he requested a trade. The Blackhawks were going to miss the playoffs, eventually finishing ninth in the Western Conference, and Thomas wanted a shot at playing for a Cup contender. The trade deadline passed while Thomas and the Blackhawks were — fittingly — on a flight to Anaheim.

"Everyone gets off the bus here at the rink, goes in the visiting room, and I go in (the Ducks') room," Thomas said. "We played (the Blackhawks) the next night, and I scored two goals."

Thomas had just four goals in 69 games with Chicago, but he racked up 10 in the final 12 games with Anaheim. "I had a lot of confidence," Thomas said. Thomas scored four more in the playoffs as the eighth-seeded Ducks swept the Red Wings in the first round and went on to lose in seven games in the Stanley Cup final to the Devils. Needless to say, Thomas etched his place in Ducks lore in a very short time.

Ticket talk

Coach Jon Cooper has known assistant Brad Lauer since they went to school together for a year in Saskatchewan. That connection helped pay off when Lauer, while playing for the Islanders in the 1980s, helped hook up Cooper with tickets while the latter was a student at nearby Hofstra. "He used to be my ticket in when I went to all of the Islander games," Cooper said. "So I was really popular with all the college students because I had pretty good access to tickets."

Quote to note

"I honestly don't read media at all. I learned that (playing) in Philly."

Defenseman Matt Carle, with the Flyers from 2008-12

From the fans

For F Jonathan Drouin: What was the most challenging thing in coming back to play in regular games after sitting with injuries for a while?

Drouin said it was getting back into game shape, noting his lungs felt heavy in the first period Wednesday against the Ducks, his first game back. Getting into a rhythm isn't easy, either. "It's just hard," Drouin said. "You practice like you play, but in game-like situations, nothing can compare to that."

Have a question for a Lightning player? Send them to beat writer Joe Smith on Twitter to @TBTimes_JSmith or email [email protected] and we'll answer one every Sunday.

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