TAMPA — At one point Saturday morning, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brad Lukowich, Andre Roy and Cory Sarich — four members of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team — stood inside Amalie Arena during the Tampa Bay's morning skate and found their eyes drifting toward the giant Cup banner hanging from the rafters.
"It all starts to come back," Lukowich said. "It's a different feeling. You really can't even explain it with words."
The memories flooded back this weekend as the team was toasted as part of the Lightning's yearlong 25th anniversary celebration. The Cup team held its reunion Friday and Saturday because coach John Tortorella, now the coach of the Blue Jackets, was in town for Saturday's game against the Lightning.
"Endless fun," Lukowich said.
And endless stories.
"But it wasn't so much the end result that I remember the most, it's all the little moments throughout the season," Marty St. Louis said. "The stories, the ups and downs. People say all the time it's not so much the destination, it's the journey, and that's what I keep close to me."
And the destination came with the banner, which the players see every time they return to the arena.
"It takes me way back," Roy said. "I won the Cup. I think of all the effort, all the up and downs I had in my career going back before juniors, it makes me proud.
"There are so many hockey players in this world, to be able to make the NHL and establish yourself as a player … our dream is to win the Cup. I come into this building and see that banner, it makes me proud. It makes me proud for all the guys I played with."
Quote of the day
"It kind of inspires you, and here they are, many years later, back together and being honored. You just think, you want that to happen to you."
Current Lightning coach Jon Cooper, on seeing the 2004 Stanley Cup championship team being honorede_SClBNo surprise here
Marty St. Louis was asked for his favorite moment from the 2003-04 season. Though he said the memories of that year are more team-oriented, one on-ice moment stands above the rest:
His goal 33 seconds into the second overtime of Game 6 of the Cup final in Calgary that forced Game 7 in Tampa.
"Clearly on an individual level, it's Game 6 in Calgary," St. Louis said. "The Stanley Cup is there, we're down (in the series 3-2), and we're in overtime, and winning that game (gave) us a chance to come back home and play Game 7 in front of our fans. Those are epic moments, and to be part of that is definitely my favorite memory as a player."
D Slater Koekkoek and C Gabriel Dumont were healthy scratches as coach Jon Cooper used the 11 forwards/seven defensemen lineup he employed during the 10-game stretch in which the Lightning went 8-1-1.