Each Thursday, TampaBayLightning.com will celebrate Throwback Thursday with a Bolt from the Past with the help of Joseph Justice. Today's first edition: Jassen Cullimore
Jassen Cullimore was the consummate defensive defenseman for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A formidable figure at 6’5” and 235 lbs, he was a stalwart on Tampa’s blueline for 7 seasons. His contributions included being a key figure on the lunch pail crew who worked to bring home the Stanley Cup.
Cullimore was originally drafted by Vancouver and later moved to the Canadiens. He was picked up off waivers by the Bolts because then Coach Jacque Demers had him as a player with Montreal. He would become one of the few good things that happened to the Lightning during the 1997-98 season where they went through 3 coaches, 5 goalies, and 40 skaters.
Cullimore earned a home with the Bolts the following season where he put up the best offensive numbers of his career with 17 points (yeah, absolutely a defensive defenseman). Cullimore would be one of the few Bolts to survive the tumultuous seasons from 1998 thru 2001 when Tortarella took over. Cullimore's 408 games with the Lightning ranks him 3rd all-time in games played by a Bolts D-man.
What I consider the best Cullimore moment was in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals. Kieth Primeau had been a force in the series, and the Bolts seemingly had no answer for him. Going into Game 7, it was announced Cullimore would be returning from an injury that had kept him out since the third game of the playoffs. He showed up big, both with his standard physicality, and surprisingly by triggering some offense. He notched an assist, which for a guy with four career playoff points is a pretty big deal. Something about his return to the lineup made it feel like the Lightning would win that game, and he went out and delivered.
Cullimore brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown in Ontario on his official day with the Cup. During that time he met up with local retired NHL player Leo Reise Jr. Reise had won the Cup twice as a member of the 1950's Wings, but back in those days players did not get a day with the cup. Despite winning it twice, Reise had never even taken a picture with the trophy--something Cullimore remedied and for which Reise remains grateful to this day.
Following his time with the Bolts, Cullimore spent time in Chicago, Florida, and one season with a German club. He returned to retire with the Lightning and now works with the Lightning helping with its youth hockey program.
Joseph Justice is a local attorney born in the Tampa area. He has followed the Lightning since the team was first announced and he begged his mother to take him to the mall to buy him a jersey (thanks mom). He has a wonderful wife (who helps edit his grammar) and two small children who are being given no choice but to follow and play hockey (this is kind of a joke…. kind of). He is a passionate Lightning fan and avid user of parentheses.