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SKATING THROUGH THE YEARS // A HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE

1990

May 1: NHL Hall of Famer Phil Esposito forms the Tampa Bay Hockey Group and announces his plan to seek a franchise.

Sept. 12: Esposito unveils the name Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sept. 19: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-3 in an exhibition game at the Florida Suncoast Dome (now ThunderDome) before a crowd of 25,581, the largest crowd ever to attend an NHL game.

Dec. 6: Tampa Bay and Ottawa are awarded expansion franchises to begin play in 1992-93.

1991

March 21: The team colors _ black, blue, silver and white _ and logos are unveiled.

June 4: The team road and home uniforms are unveiled.

Sept. 19: Team ownership is restructured with Lightning Partners, Inc. (owned by Japanese-based Kokusai Green Co., Ltd.) assuming the role of general partner.

Dec. 20: The Lightning and Ottawa Senators are granted permanent membership in the NHL.

1992

Jan. 9: The Lightning is placed in the Norris Division (Clarence Campbell Conference) along with Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis and Toronto.

April 22: The Lightning and Florida State Fairgrounds officials sign an agreement making Expo Hall the team's first home.

April 23: Terry Crisp is named head coach.

June 18: Goaltender Wendell Young of the Penguins is selected as the first of 21 players selected by the Lightning in the expansion draft. In the team's first trade, Tampa Bay acquires goaltender J.

C. Bergeron from Montreal for goaltender Frederic Chabot.

June 20: Roman Hamrlik, an 18-year-old defenseman from Czechoslovakia, is the Lightning's first player selected in the Entry Draft.

July 8: Mikael Andersson, a Hartford Whalers forward, is the first free agent signed by the Lightning.

Aug. 18: Manon Rheaume, a female goaltender, signs a tryout form.

Sept. 12: The Lightning's first training camp opens at the Lakeland Civic Center.

Sept. 18: Tampa Bay ties Montreal 4-4 at Expo Hall in the first Lightning preseason game. Brian Bradley scores the first goal 23 seconds into the game.

Sept. 23: Rheaume becomes the first woman to play one of the four major-league sports (baseball, basketball, football, hockey), starting a preseason game against St. Louis.

Oct. 7: The Lightning beats Chicago 7-3 in its inaugural regular-season game. Chris Kontos scores four goals before a sellout crowd of 10,425 at Expo Hall.

Oct. 13: In its third game away from home, Tampa Bay beats St. Louis 2-1 for its first road victory.

Nov. 7: The Lightning wins in overtime for the first time, defeating the Islanders 6-5 in New York on Doug Crossman's third goal and sixth point of the game.

Nov. 13: Pat Jablonski makes 38 saves in Tampa Bay's first shutout, 1-0 over visiting Ottawa.

Dec. 15: Andersson scores the Lightning's first penalty shot with 32 seconds remaining at Los Angeles as Tampa Bay beats the Kings 3-2.

1993

Feb. 6: Bradley becomes the first Lightning All-Star.

March 16: With his 39th goal, Bradley sets an NHL (non-WHA) expansion team goal-scoring record. He finishes the season with 42 goals and 44 assists for 86 points.

June 26: The Lightning selects center Chris Gratton from the Ontario Hockey League in the Entry Draft.

July 20: The Lightning and St. Petersburg sign a two-year agreement for the team to play in the Florida Suncoast Dome, later renamed the ThunderDome.

Oct. 9: The Lightning sets an NHL attendance record when 27,227 fans attend the home opener, a 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers.

1994

Feb. 27: Denis Savard becomes the 96th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 games.

June 28: The Lightning selects left wing Jason Wiemer of the Western Hockey League in the Entry Draft.

1995

July 8: The Lightning selects center Daymond Langkow of the Western Hockey League in the Entry Draft.

Aug. 10: Financing of the Tampa Bay Arena, later named the Ice Palace, is completed.

1996

March 11: Lightning mails playoff-ticket order forms to season-ticket holders.

March 20: Lightning trades defenseman Enrico Ciccone to Chicago for left wing Patrick Poulin and defenseman Igor Ulanov.

April 13: Lightning clinches first playoff berth when New Jersey loses to Ottawa 5-2.

_ BRUCE LOWITT

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