In 2004 it took 7 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning to defeat the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup finals. The very next season was the NHL lockout, meaning the Lightning would have to wait an extra year to defend the cup.
A decade later some of the stars from this team are still making an impact in the league; good and bad.
Martin St. Louis
At almost 40-years-old and with a new team, Martin St. Louis has become the player the New York Rangers are depending on most in the 2014 playoffs. Back in 2004 he won the Hart Trophy with a league leading 94 points. St. Louis struggled for the Rangers in 2014 after being traded there for Ryan Callahan. He scored only 1 goal in 19 games in the regular season, but his playoff performance has been superb. The small feisty forward may still have some left with him even beyond 2014. Fans of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning are the least shocked at how well he continues to play.
Like St. Louis, the Lightning took a long time before departing with Vincent Lecavalier. Using an amnesty on his contract instead of a trade, the Lightning released the former star after the 2012-2013 season. Lecavalier then signed with the Philadelphia Flyers with less than favorable results. In his first season with the Flyers Lecavalier scored 20 goals in 69 games to go with a minus 16. Unless he can add another 20 points to his total next season the Flyers might be handicapped by the veteran’s rather large contract.
Defenseman Dan Boyle became an All-Star when he first joined the Lightning. His biggest contribution to the 2004 team was his plus 23, meaning when Boyle was on the ice goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin had some extra breathing room. Boyle has not suited up for the Lightning in some time, although he continues to succeed in the NHL now as a member of the San Jose Sharks. Boyle has been one of the reasons why the Sharks are consistently a playoff team and should he depart for the 2014-2015 season there will be a huge gap to fill.
Somehow Brad Richards has become one of the better known hockey players in the NHL even without reaching the 30 goal mark in a season. Playing for the New York Rangers probably has a lot to do with it. Richards contributed a total of 79 points for the 2004 Lightning and got even better. Now with three full seasons as a member of the Rangers, he is with former teammate Martin St. Louis looking to repeat what they did in 2004 in the Big Apple.