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Remembering Lightning's lost chance at Stanley Cup repeat

Members of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team gathered last week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their championship. • They returned to remember what they did. And to lament what they couldn't do. • They never got a real chance to defend their title. • The 2004-05 season was wiped out by a lockout, and that's too bad. The Lightning probably would have been the favorite to win the Stanley Cup that season. But the lockout and a new collective bargaining agreement led to a chain of events that cost Tampa Bay a legitimate chance to start a dynasty.

Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin never played another game in a Lightning uniform after Game 7 of the 2004 Cup final. He became a free agent and signed with the Blackhawks. The Lightning spent the next few years trying to replace Khabibulin, trading such stars as Brad Richards and Fredrik Modin for goalies. Other players left for free agency, too.

"You would have liked to see if we could have done it again,'' then-Lightning coach John Tortorella said.

The lockout never allowed it.

"It wasn't like a normal situation where maybe you could try to repeat or at least take a run at it,'' Tortorella said. "It gave us the Cup for a couple of years. … But I wish it was different.''

When you look back at the team that won the Cup, it's stunning just how young its nucleus was. On the night the Lightning won the Cup, June 7, 2004, Richards and Vinny Lecavalier were 24. Marty St. Louis was 28. Modin was 29. Dan Boyle and Pavel Kubina were 27. Cory Sarich was 25. Khabibulin was 31.

Here we are, 10 years later, and the three best players on that team — St. Louis, Richards and Lecavalier — are still playing at a high level.

"We and the whole community kind of got ripped off because of the lockout,'' said Dave Andreychuk, captain of the Cup-winning team. "We were all signed and ready to come back that next year.''

Ironically, the collective bargaining agreement that resulted included a salary cap that was intended to help small-market teams such as the Lightning. It turned out to be the reason the Lightning could not properly defend its Stanley Cup.

Off and on

If you watch Keith Olbermann's show on ESPN2, you have noticed that the host has missed a few shows here and there. The reason?

"So let me tell you about shingles,'' Olbermann told his audience Thursday. "Not the gross part, (but) after the gross part where it feels like you fell out of an airplane onto pointy poison ivy that then catches fire."

Olbermann said as long as he can manage the pain, he'll be do the show.

"I can play through the pain, I can play through the drugs, I can play through the limp,'' Olbermann said. "But mix in one thing like the drugs messing with sleep, and on TV I become a danger to humanity.''

World Cup announcers

ESPN has set its roster of announcers for this summer's soccer World Cup. Ian Darke leads the play-by-play team. He will call the final and all U.S. matches. The rest of the play-by-play team includes Jon Champion, Adrian Healey, Daniel Mann, Fernando Palomo and Derek Rae. All are British except for Palomo, who is from El Salvador. ESPN's World Cup coverage runs from June 12 through July 13.

Newest show

The Press Box, Bright House Network's roundtable sports-talk show featuring bay area sports media personalties, is going daily. Previously airing once a week, Press Box goes to a half-hour format Monday through Friday starting March 31 on Ch. 47 on Bright House. The daily show debuts from Tropicana Field the day of the Rays' season opener. It will air at 6 p.m., with a rerun airing at 11 p.m. Longtime Bright House sports anchor Rock Riley will host.

Funniest tweet

"Can I get fined if I comment about basketball officiating?"

— Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini, who has been known to bark a time or two at football officials

Three things that popped into my head

1. The Lightning trade of Cory Conacher to Ottawa for goalie Ben Bishop last April is turning out to be one of the most lopsided in Lightning history. Bishop has a club record for victories in a season with 34 and counting, and Conacher is not even with the Senators any longer. Conacher was claimed off waivers by Buffalo this month and is on pace for seven goals this season.

2. ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard, a Michigan grad, took to Twitter to take shots at Ohio State basketball guard Aaron Craft. If I'm ESPN, I'm not happy. One can't help but wonder if Howard's cheap shots were because of a bias against Ohio State, which would hurt his credibility when it comes to making comments about Big Ten football. If I'm ESPN, I'm telling Howard it's just not worth the damage it might cause to make unnecessary comments about a college basketball player, especially if you're a college football announcer.

3. So USF is going to play its spring football game on campus at the soccer stadium. At least USF is smart enough to recognize there isn't widespread interested in the spring game. Other than that, I'm not sure how you spin it to make this seem like a good thing

tom jones' two cents

Remembering Lightning's lost chance at Stanley Cup repeat 03/21/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 22, 2014 9:39pm]
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