Back in 2006, when they both played for the University of Maine, Teddy Purcell thought Mike Lundin was headed for a solid NHL career.
Lundin felt the same way about Purcell.
However, the two never dreamed they would make it together, least of all in Tampa Bay.
Yet the pair have become important role players in the Lightning scheme of things: Lundin as a quick, puck-moving defenseman and Purcell as a jack-of-all-trades forward.
"They're very smart individuals," said Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who found both former Black Bears stashed in his cupboard when he arrived in Tampa 11 months ago. "Extremely smart. And I think they've realized over the span of this year that it ain't just about names out there. It's about what you do every day. And they slowly figured out they can do it, too."
Purcell spent only one season in Orono, which sits about five hours due north of Boston, just as Lundin was finishing up his four-year stay there.
And that was 10 years after another former Black Bear, Lightning defenseman Brett Clark, played one season for Maine.
Undrafted by an NHL team, Purcell, who quickly showed a knack for polishing off pucks, left school to sign a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Kings.
"When I first went to Maine, I never thought I'd play in the NHL," he said. "You always dreamed about it, but you'd never think it would actually come true. It's pretty cool how it's come full circle."
While at Maine, Purcell got to know and appreciate Lundin, Tampa Bay's fourth-round pick in 2004.
"He was a senior and a leader on our team," Purcell said. "He's always been a quiet guy, but I got along with him well off the ice, too. We still give each other a hard time and joke about our college days. It's been fun to get to know him over the last couple of years and to play with him again at the NHL level."
It was a much thinner and greener Purcell who arrived on campus nearly five years ago.
Even so, Lundin said he knew from the first glance that Purcell had the "it" factor.
"Definitely," he said. "You could see the raw talent and natural ability. The vision, the hands, the shot. You knew it was all top level, and that he was going to be a special player."
It's even more special to be playing together on a Cup contender.
"I didn't think we would be playing where we are, right now," Lundin said. "Back then, you don't think that far ahead. But it's pretty fun to share those memories, then and now."