TAMPA — You never forget where you were for a Stanley Cup win, especially when the organization only has one.
It’s Cup week in Tampa Bay as we relive the Lightning’s 2004 win along with Fox Sports Sun’s re-airing of the series. We collected our staff memories from the clinching Game 7, but we also wanted to hear about fans’ experiences from June 7, 2004 (aka the best day in Lightning history ... so far).
We heard from Redditors in the Lightning subreddit with what they remember from the night the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, then got emails from a few more people.
Can’t stop Hulk Hogan
“I am a retired Tampa Police Officer. My assignment that night was in the Zamboni tunnel. Before the game ended I was instructed not to let anyone without a pass onto the ice. When the game ended and all the media went out, I look up and see Hulk Hogan about to go out. I look and he doesn’t have a pass. I had to make a split second decision and decided to let him go. I didn’t want a newspaper article about a police officer in the hospital after trying to stop Hulk Hogan.”
— Mitch Wilkins
“I remember people leaving with three minutes left in the game. I didn’t have tickets so we just watched the game out front and some people started leaving early out the backdoor, so we snuck in that way and watched the Cup presentation. It was awesome. I remember weird bits. Counting down the last ten seconds. Hulk Hogan and Andre Roy being on the ice. Cars just driving around parking garages honking. An insane line to get hats. The pure joy of booing Gary Bettman. Khabi’s clutch save with five minutes left. These aren’t in any particular order.”
"I was lucky enough to be at the game, I was 13 and my family were season ticket holders and had been since the Thunderdome days. Our seats were behind the goal where the Lightning defend twice. Something that a lot of people have forgotten was that the game was a rock fight for two periods. (Ruslan) Fedotenko scored twice but there weren’t many shots or scoring chances other than that. When they pulled it back to 2-1 it was a constant clock watch. Every action was magnified, every shift was the most important shift of the game. Time just stood still.
“I grew up when the team was a joke. When people said, ‘Why is there a team in Tampa?’ I think on some level I didn’t think we could win, like the immutable laws of the universe would stop us at the end. But we did win and it was one of the five best days of my life. I hugged a total stranger for the first time. I watched my childhood heroes skate around for what seemed like hours with the Cup. I saw people dancing in the streets. I didn’t sleep that night.”
Sobbing I was so happy
“I’ll never forget it. I was in either third or fourth grade. Watched it on our big box tv in the living room. Was bittersweet though because my dad travelled for work at the time and he was in a different city. So for the last 5 minutes or so we were on the phone with each other. When the crowd started counting down I just started sobbing I was so happy.”
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"I was working as an engineer and had a Calgarian associate at a regular customer’s office whom had loudly asserted that ‘his’ Flames would win the Cup. After dealing with so much arrogance, in my mind, for three days I bet him a hundred dollars that the Lightning would get it done, and he took me up on it!
"I had never made a bet like that before, but I was simply caught up in the moment. Needless to say, the wife and I were glued to the TV screen, cheering our boys on and when the Lightning won ... I didn’t even call my Calgarian friend to gloat.
"You see, I knew I was flying out to Calgary the next day, so I showed up at his place of business unannounced and requested payment of the bet. When he tried to pay me in Canadian dollars, I reminded him that the bet was in the native currency of the winner, so he had to run down to the bank while his coworkers chatted with me and laughed at how he just lost about 135 dollars Canadian. When he came back and paid me, I handed him the front page of the Tampa newspaper I had brought with me showing Dave Andreychuk skating around while holding the Stanley Cup over his head: ‘So he could frame it and hang it on the wall of his office.’
"The office erupted in laughter over that one, because they had heard the conversations he had with me on speakerphone over this bet and he was so loud and proud during the Final, only to be as quiet as a church mouse the day after the win ... and then I walked into the office that early afternoon.
“It was nice to have our TB Lightning fandom pay off in such a memorable way.”
Pit in my stomach
"I was at the game. We had seats in the club level. I remember when Fedotenko pocketed the second goal and put us up 2-0, I got a pit in my stomach. Being up two goals in any hockey game always feels like the kiss of death. The atmosphere in the place going into the third was probably one of the most energetic sports events I had ever been to and probably will ever be at. (Craig) Conroy pocketed Calgary’s first like halfway through the third and I just kept thinking, “damn two goal lead.” Pretty soon there was like five minutes left ... three minutes left... two minutes left... Calgary got a penalty... Holy s--t, we won the Stanley Cup?
“Still weird to think I was there for it. Even weirder to remember how young I was at the time. Not a lot of people get to see what I saw, so I am grateful for the memory and eager to potentially see it again.”
"I was being chirped bad by the boys all night because I’m a Canadian and they all said I should be deported for cheering for the Bolts.
"I also remember my buddy throwing a can of Keith’s (beer) at the wall and yelling ‘Oh no! Moms going to kill me!’ ”
“I was 9 years old and we just moved to Tampa. My parents let me stay up and watch the game and I was eating Trix cereal.”
Check it out
More than 15 players, management and coaches from the 2004 team will be on an open Zoom conference for fans on Saturday, May 16 starting at 7 p.m. prior to the FOX Sports Sun re-air of the Cup-clinching Game 7 victory at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @dianacnearhos.