For Jon Cooper, the best part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship happened after Saturday's 3-0 victory over the Devils.
That's when the Lightning coach sat with members of the Cup team, who swapped stories about a 23-game playoff run that went though the Islanders, Canadiens, Flyers and Flames, and ended with a Cup-clinching 2-1, Game 7 victory over Calgary at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"I was barely coaching when that happened, but I felt like I was part of it," Cooper said. "It just gets your blood going in the sense you want to be part of that. You want to tell those stories."
On Sunday, the team's three-day anniversary party was open to the public as 14 members of the Cup team greeted the 2,300 fans who showed up, signed autographs and posed for pictures. The Stanley Cup was there, too.
The team also will be honored tonight when Tampa Bay hosts the Canucks, coached by John Tortorella, who led the Lightning's 2003-04 squad.
As for stories, they even came over the phone from Brad Richards, now with the Rangers, and Vinny Lecavalier, with the Flyers, who wished they could have attended.
"It was great," Cooper said, "to sit around, be a sponge and listen to everything that went on."
Dave Andreychuk, LW, captain
A tripping penalty with 23 seconds left in the third period of Game 7 against the Flames had Andreychuk in the penalty box. As it turned out, that was the best seat in the house.
"As the time went down to zero, I was able to look across the ice and watch the bench celebrate," he said. "My family was in (section) 129, and I was able to see them, too. So that was the really cool thing about it."
As for the rest of the celebration, "I only have two minutes recollection of what really happened," Andreychuk said.
He remembers wondering how heavy the Cup is because he had to skate it around the ice. He doesn't remember hugging Hulk Hogan, though someone told him he did.
He remembers grabbing the Cup away from a teammate to take it into the locker room but can't recall from whom or what happened next.
"I guess that's the whole mystique of it, too," Andreychuk said. "Sure, I'd like to know each person I talked to, but I really don't remember."
Tim Taylor, C
Three or four days after the Lightning won the Cup, Taylor was in a Tampa pharmacy when he overheard two women — perhaps 65 years old, he recalled — talking about the championship.
"It was two months they had stayed up late every night to watch the hockey games on TV," Taylor said. "They were never hockey fans, but they caught on to the game and just loved it."
Taylor said he listened for about 10 minutes before he introduced himself.
"They were, like, 'Oh, my God, that was so much fun to watch,' " Taylor said. "That's what made this special for us. We caught everyone in this community, brought everyone together. We made new hockey fans because we grew the game here."
Brad Richards, C, playoff MVP
Players usually take afternoon naps before games. But before Game 7 against Calgary, Richards couldn't sleep. He went to the lounge of the team hotel to get coffee and found his teammates.
"No one could sleep," Richards said. "And no one wanted to be in their room alone thinking."
The players stayed at a hotel across the street from the Times Forum for the entire playoff run. A big boys club, Richards said.
"Video machine, pingpong, big-screen TV, card games all evening," he said. "It really helped you come together. As fun as the playoffs are with the ups and downs, you don't want to be alone with your thoughts. You want to have your buddies there to bounce things off of, to pass the time. No media, no distractions, no one else in the wold around you."
And when the playoffs ended?
"You've got the Cup," Richards said, "but you're not going to be hanging out anymore with your 25 best friends."
Brad Lukowich, D
Everyone remembers coach John Tortorella telling Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock to "shut your yap."
It was a well-calculated maneuver by Tortorella to take the focus off his players after a bad 6-2 loss in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
But does anyone recall it was Hitchcock yelling at Lukowich during the game that gave Tortorella the excuse to blow up?
"There was a faceoff in front of (the Flyers') bench," Lukowich said. "I was probably running around and being an idiot like usual, and (Hitchcock) is pointing at me saying, 'He's coming after you. He's coming after you.' "
Hitchcock meant enforcer Donald Brashear, who Lukowich said went over the boards and punched him in the head.
"We're in the (locker) room, and 'Torts' is, like, 'What happened?' I told him, and Torts pulled a Torts. That's what that was about."
Actually it was about Tortorella taking the attention off his players.
"He was good at that," Lukowich said. "He did it all year. He always kept the players over here and deflected things and took them on himself."
Quotes to note
"I remember the crowd in Philly. During a TV timeout, Torts is yelling at the referee and the whole building is chanting 'Shut your yap.' That was funny." — Andre Roy, LW, on Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the Flyers
"Ron said, 'Well, we're going to go ahead and do it and ask for permission later.' We did the deal, and Ron went and said, 'Oh, by the way, this is where we are.' " — GM Jay Feaster, on Lightning president Ron Campbell justifying to CEO Tom Wilson the trade for defenseman Darryl Sydor, a key to the Cup run
"Maybe there will be a 20 years anniversary and I can be there," — Vinny Lecavalier, C