TAMPA — Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier looked at his image — 60 inches tall, 40 inches wide — holding the Stanley Cup over his head and smiled.
"Unbelievable," he said. "It obviously brings back memories, but it's a great image of what we want to be."
That is exactly the message coach Guy Boucher wanted to get across when he had the team's St. Pete Times Forum locker room and surrounding hallways decorated with photos of the 2004 Cup celebration.
There are other photos, too, showing effort and grit, such as the one of left wing Ryan Malone sprawling to block a shot near a very sensitive part of his body, and another 60- by 40-inch shot of right wing Marty St. Louis, next to the big Lecavalier picture, bleeding down his face from cuts on his forehead and nose. Go to tampabay.com/blogs/lightning for a closer look.
But the Cup photos are most notable because during the past two years under previous ownership and management, images of the Cup celebration were not displayed. In fact, other than the championship banner that hangs in the arena, there seemed to be no recognition of it at all.
"It was disappointing," St. Louis said. "You almost didn't want to talk about it, hear about it or see it, so it's kind of nice that it's in our face right now."
"You look at any team that has won, like the Yankees and Montreal Canadiens, they live by that," Lecavalier said. "As an organization, we are winners. I don't think we should forget about that. We should talk about what we did back then to get there and do the same thing now."
Boucher said he handpicked the pictures and decided where they should go, and only pictures of players who have won a Stanley Cup are hung in the locker room. That means only Lecavalier, fighting Calgary's Jarome Iginla, St. Louis and defenseman Pavel Kubina are represented, though nonspecific team photos also are shown.
There are signs hung from the locker room ceiling that say, "Our Puck," "Lightning Transition" and "Puck Mentality."
On a hallway wall is painted "Choose Everyday." Underneath are options: get worse, stay the same or, in capital letters, get better.
"It's my job to transmit to the players what my vision is," Boucher said. "Everything comes into play when you're transmitting something: pictures, images, writing on the wall.
"Basically, it's a big brainwash we need to do as coaches because the players need to understand the end product I have in mind. I want to make sure the guys get as many tools as possible to figure out that vision and put it into practice."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]