Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning's Stamkos has real home team

Somewhere in a small south West Shore enclave, the natives are getting restless. One of their own, one they have taken under their wing, is not being a good neighbor. "He's just using us," Lightning goaltender Mike Smith said. "He's using us for the food." It has been nearly a month since Steven Stamkos moved into a townhouse in the upscale Tampa neighborhood. Smith has had him over for dinner several times as have teammates Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone, all of whom live within a block or two of the 18-year-old rookie center. Not once has Stamkos returned the favor. "No, he hasn't," Smith said. "But I don't know. At 18, all I could cook was Kraft dinner and some Lipton soup; heat it up in the microwave. So, I'm not sure we trust him yet with his specialties." It is faux outrage. Stamkos has become part of the family, and his teammates have gladly taken the responsibility of watching over him while he settles, for the first time, into solo living.

It is exactly what the Lightning hoped when it suggested Stamkos move into the neighborhood. It is what Recchi and Roberts told Stamkos' parents, back in Unionville, Ontario, they would do.

"So important," Stamkos' mother, Lesley, said. "I'm sure he would have been fine, but we felt it was important that for the first year, he was around some of the other players."

"It is," Stamkos said, "a perfect situation."

Take moving day. Roberts was napping — "I took some heat for that one," he said — but Recchi was there to help.

When Stamkos needed couches, Smith gave him a couple he wasn't using, and a television. After Saturday's victory over the Senators, Stamkos went by Recchi's for a steak. A day later, he had dinner at Malone's, the day after that with Smith.

It is the best of both worlds, Recchi said. "He gets his own space, but at the same time, he has someone to go home with."

"Everybody is just making sure he's doing the right things," Malone said. "Everyone's house is open for him if he needs anything. If there's an emergency — say he sets his house on fire or something — he has somewhere to run."

The mix of ages also is good. Roberts, 42, and Recchi, 40, are the mentors with whom Stamkos, this year's No. 1 draft choice, talks hockey. Malone, 28, and Smith, 26, are Xbox partners.

"You don't really notice the age difference," Stamkos said. "They make me feel comfortable."

"We thoroughly enjoy having him around," Roberts said. "He's got that personality. He comes over and he's involved in the conversation, which is great. My wife loves him to death, and our little guy, is like, 'Let's walk over to see Stammer.' He's 3 years old."

And those dinner invitations?

With Tampa Bay, winner of three straight, beginning a five-game road trip tonight against the Devils at Prudential Arena in Newark, N.J., they will have to wait. Stamkos said it will be worth it.

"They'll be shocked at what I'm going to prepare for them," he said.

Any hints? "No," Stamkos said, "it will be a surprise."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Tampa Bay Lightning's Stamkos has real home team 11/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    Did the Rays make the right call in picking RHP Austin Pruitt rather than top prospect Brent Honeywell? Though Honeywell had tweeted he was as ready as he'd ever be, the Rays felt better going with Pruitt, who gave them the five innings they were seeking.

  2. Damion Lowe returns to Rowdies after eventful Gold Cup


    ST. PETERSBURG — Pretty well emotionally spent, and not at all rested physically having just finished a life-changing stint with his native Jamaica in the Gold Cup, Damion Lowe wants the Rowdies to know he's ready.

    Damion Lowe, right, returns to the Rowdies — though he is likely to get a rest in tonight’s 7:30 home game against Pittsburgh — after an eventful six Gold Cup matches.
  3. Rays journal: Lineup dominated by Masahiro Tanaka in loss to Yankees (w/video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Sometimes you just have to dig out the good news, and for the Rays on Friday it may well have been that they didn't get no-hit in a 6-1 loss.

    Austin Pruitt waits for Brett Gardner to round the bases after leading off the first with one of three homers Pruitt gives up.
  4. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, New York

    The Heater

    Today: at Yankees

    1:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws against the Rockies during the first inning Tuesday. He left after allowing just one hit and striking out nine in six shutout innings.  {Associated Press}
  5. Steve Cishek latest bullpen upgrade for Rays, who now must translate that to wins

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The Rays made another addition to change the look of their bullpen Friday in acquiring veteran side-armer and former closer Steve Cishek from Seattle.

    Reliever Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games after recovering from offseason hip surgery and a 1.86 ERA since a rocky second outing of the season.