TAMPA — Along the hallway leading from the Lightning locker room to the bench, murals lines the walls.
One side depicts the early days of the franchise, while the other is dedicated completely to Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship season.
Both were the idea of current head coach Jon Cooper, who wants the Lightning’s young crop of players to understand the history of the franchise and what it took to capture that Stanley Cup title. More than a dozen members of the championship team are in town for Monday’s 10-year anniversary celebration.
“When you are around champions, it does nothing but rub off on you,’’ Cooper said. “Hopefully, we’ll get everybody together and our guys can hear stories of what those guys did in 2004.
“I sat around about eight of those guys (Saturday night) just listening to their stories from start to finish. I was barely coaching (in 2004), but I felt like I was part of it. And it gets your blood going in the sense that you want to be a part of that, you want to be able to tell those stories. But there were a lot of lessons in those stories and it was great to just sit around and be a sponge and listen to everything that went on.’’
Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos has gotten to know some of the 2004 players — Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, Pavel Kubina, Brad Richards, Dave Andreychuk and Chris Dingman — but seeing the celebration and hearing from other members of that team makes him yearn for his own championship run.
“Any time you’ve won anything in your life, to be able to come back with the guys that you won with is pretty special,’’ Stamkos said. “I haven’t been able to do it at this level yet; that’s something that we all dream of. But just to be able to see some of the guys, those guys will cherish those memories for the rest of their lives.
“It’s a great thing for the organization to do. And hopefully it brings some of that winning karma and the tradition back and guys can really see up close what it is like to have a special bond like that. And hopefully we can do that here.’’
Looking for more size up front, Cooper inserted LW Ryan Malone and RW B.J. Crombeen into the lineup for Saturday’s victory against New Jersey. That line, along with C Nate Thompson, spent time down low in the offensive zone and wore down the Devils defense. Crombeen scored the winning goal on a deflection.
“Ultimately, they are one of four lines, get their 10-12 minutes a game,” Cooper said. “But when they can spend some time in the offensive zone, that’s the key for us.’’
Other factors contributed to Cooper dressing the pair of veteran forwards ahead of Richard Panik and Nikita Kucherov.
“The one thing that I think gets overlooked is not what they do on the ice, but what they are doing on the bench and in the locker room and stuff like that,’’ Cooper said. “They gave us a good lift as older guys that have been around, as positive as they were on the bench. I don’t think you can underestimate what they brought in that regard.’’
Nuts and Bolts
Due to severe weather, the Stanley Cup viewing will take place on the Plaza patio from 5:30-6:30 p.m. while autograph signings with members of the 2004 Stanley Cup team will be held at Paradise Cove inside on the main concourse. With the pregame ceremony honoring the 2004 championship team, puck drop is expected to take place around 7:45 p.m. ...G Ben Bishop is expected to start for Tampa Bay, while Vancouver will give rookie Eddie Lack his 11th consecutive start. ...The Lightning lineup is expected to be the same as Saturday, with D Mark Barberio, D Keith Aulie, Panik and Kucherov scheduled to be scratched.