07/04/15 World Cup
Here's a great story uncovered by ESPN writer Kate Fagan about Abby Wambach, one of the stars of the U.S. women's soccer team.
When Wambach was a freshman playing at Florida, the Gators took on powerhouse North Carolina in the 1998 national championship game. With underdog Florida holding on to a precarious 1-0 lead over North Carolina, which had won 14 of the previous 16 national titles, Gators coach Becky Burleigh gathered her team during a TV timeout and was searching for just the right final words of encouragement, one last pep talk to get her team to hold on....
07/02/15 Lightning Strikes
Time to let go of the animosity and the bitterness. Forget the messy ending. Now is the time for appreciation and admiration.
Now is the time to remember and bid farewell to the sensational career of perhaps the greatest athlete in the history of Tampa Bay sports.
Marty St. Louis — our Little Engine Who Could, the former Lightning star who led the franchise to its only Stanley Cup and the author of one of the most iconic moments in Tampa Bay sports history — announced his retirement Thursday at age 40, thus ending 16 spectacular seasons that were as unlikely as they were brilliant....
07/02/15 Lightning Strikes
Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk called him the most important person in franchise history. Another former captain, Vinny Lecavalier, called him the best teammate he has had. Current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said no other player has influenced him more.
But former teammate Dan Boyle put it best. He said Thursday was "a sad day."
Simple, but true. Marty St. Louis, perhaps the greatest player in the history of the Lightning, retired Thursday after 16 NHL seasons. St. Louis, 40, ended his career with the Rangers, but it was his 13 seasons in Tampa Bay that featured the best moments of his career, including a league MVP trophy and the 2004 Stanley Cup win....
06/29/15 Lightning Strikes
There are 18 men who decide who gets into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They are good men, all of them.
The list includes brilliant hockey minds such as Scotty Bowman and Bill Torrey. It includes former superstars such as Luc Robitaille and Igor Larionov. It includes knowledgeable media members such as broadcaster Mike Emrick and longtime Sports Illustrated writer Michael Farber.
These 18 men know the sport. They know the history of the game. The job they have been assigned is not an easy one, and they take that job very seriously....
06/15/15 Lightning Strikes
One day there will be time for the Lightning to perform the autopsy on the 2015 Stanley Cup final. On that day, the Lightning can dissect what went wrong, how the series was lost, everything it might have done differently.
But now is not that time.
Today is simply about disappointment. It's about the heartbreak of coming so close to a lifelong dream and having it ripped from its hands at the final moment. It's about anger and grief and all the rotten stages of letting a championship that was so close slip away....
06/14/15 Lightning Strikes
CHICAGO — Once again, a season is in the balance and the Lightning needs a hero.
It needs someone to duck into a phone booth and come out with a cape, ready to fire wrist shots faster than a speeding bullet. It must find a player who is willing to lead the way, to lift his teammates on his back and will them to victory. It needs the game's No. 1 star.
It needs Steven Stamkos.
Here we are again: Lightning nation is desperate for a victory and turning its eyes to its best player, its leading scorer, its superstar....
06/13/15 Lightning Strikes
The starting goalie is hobbled by an unknown injury to an unknown part of his body.
The leading goal scorer has a messed up hand. Or wrist. Or shoulder. We're not quite sure.
The second-leading goal scorer was last seen leaving the ice in major distress after slamming jaw-first into the goal post.
Practically everyone else on the team would qualify as being, simply, beat up. They are playing with bumps, bruises and a tank that has been running on fumes for quite some time now....
06/12/15 Lightning Strikes
Well, let's see. It's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. The series between the Lightning and the Blackhawks is tied at two games apiece. The Lightning is at home, and a loss would mean heading to Chicago in a 3-2 hole.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos says there are no must-win games unless a team truly has its back against the wall, meaning it has three losses in a series and is one away from having its season come to an end....
06/11/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Stick with the kid.
If you're the Lightning and you're suddenly locked in a best-of-three series for all the marbles against the Blackhawks, you might think you can't win a Stanley Cup without your all-everything goalie, Ben Bishop.
I would suggest that I don't think the Lightning can win the Cup without the kid — Andrei Vasilevskiy.
It would be a bold move, the unconventional line of thinking, a risky decision that could haunt the franchise for years to come. But as of this moment, Vasilevskiy appears to give the Lightning its best chance to knock off the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final....
06/10/15 Lightning Strikes
CHICAGO — This is terrific stuff. Just terrific.
If you can, just for a moment, set aside your rooting interest in this Stanley Cup final between the Lightning and Blackhawks, and appreciate what it is you are watching.
That's not easy to do, of course, if you're a fan of the Lightning. You're way too wrapped up every shift, every shot and every save to find something this nerve-racking to be that enjoyable. Only after the fact can you sit back and realize what you just witnessed was actually incredibly fulfilling....
06/10/15 Lightning Strikes
CHICAGO — The man who runs NBC Sports had an interesting, yet almost sacrilegious, thought the other day.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus dared suggest that NHL players should shave their traditional playoff beards.
Is he crazy?
In case you're new to hockey, there's a tradition that goes back about 40 years or so that players don't shave as long as their team is alive in the playoffs....
06/09/15 Lightning Strikes
It was an absolute bomb of a quote. And it told you everything you need to know at this moment about the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With just over 3 minutes left in Monday night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, Lightning forward Cedric Paquette scored the winning goal in Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on hostile turf in Chicago. So after the game, the French-Canadian hero of Game 3 was speaking in his native language and was asked about matching up and shutting down Chicago's big scoring stars....
06/08/15 Lightning Strikes
Three hours before the start of Monday night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final and wicked weather sideswiped the greater Chicago area.
Heavy rains, booming thunder and strong winds raced across downtown for an ominous hour.
Turns out, that was the calm before the storm, which ultimately was the pivotal showdown between the Lightning and Blackhawks.
Call it a severe Lightning storm: Tampa Bay beat the Blackhawks 3-2 to take a two games to one lead in the best-of-seven series....
06/07/15 Lightning Strikes
They will be surrounded by an angry sea of red and white.
They will be booed, cursed, mocked and jeered. They will be the unwelcomed guests of one of the best teams in hockey — a host that would rather greet them with an elbow to the chops than a pat on the back.
When the Lightning takes the ice tonight for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Blackhawks at the United Center, it will enter one of the most inhospitable places in the National Hockey League....
06/06/15 Lightning Strikes
You want the good news or the bad news first?
If you're a Lightning fan, there was plenty of good news Saturday night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. Let's start with the fact that your team is alive and well in its pursuit of a Stanley Cup. It knocked off the Blackhawks in a wild 4-3 victory to even the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. Celebrate that for a moment....