BRANDON — When Zach Bogosian walked into the Lightning locker room for the first time this season, it felt like he had never left. Sure, some players have come and gone since the defenseman won the Stanley Cup with the team in 2019-20, but the core of the group was intact.
“Technically, a year ago I was still a part of the Lightning,” he said, “which is still kind of crazy to think about.”
Bogosian left the Lightning after one season in free agency in October for the Maple Leafs. He returned in July in free agency on a three-year deal.
He has been back in the area for more than a month. He wanted to help his wife, Bianca, and their three children get settled in before training camp.
It didn’t take long for Bogosian to reacclimate to the area.
“When I first got down here mid-August, I stepped outside and immediately started sweating,” Bogosian joked.
One of the selling points for Bogosian to return was giving his family a place to call home.
He spent 65 days away from them in the Canadian postseason bubbles during the Lightning’s 2019-20 Stanley Cup run, and they stayed in the United States while he played for the Maple Leafs last season.
“If your family’s happy and the stars align that way, it makes things easier as an athlete,” Bogosian, 31, said. “You know at this point in my life, I’m more focused on making sure my kids are set up, and obviously getting a chance to come to the best team in the league, it’s the best of both worlds.”
If one team has the “hunger” and “drive” to go for three straight Stanley Cups, it’s this Lightning team, he said.
“You have a majority of the group who have gone back-to-back, and then you have guys who are coming in that have had past success,” Bogosian said.
“You get a lot of guys who just want to win. Just mixing that core group of guys who have been here and then the new guys that are coming in, that’s a recipe for hunger, I think, in itself. There’s an honest belief that we can do it again.”
Curtis McElhinney retires
Former Tampa Bay goaltender Curtis McElhinney has retired, according to a bio change he made on Instagram.
McElhinney, 38, played with the Lightning for the past two seasons, but instead of extending McElhinney’s tenure, the team signed Brian Elliott as its new back-up in free agency.
McElhinney played in 30 games for the Lightning, including 12 last season. He did not appear in any of their postseason games as Andrei Vasilevskiy made every start.
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