The Tampa Bay Lightning took to the ice for a second consecutive day on Tuesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, where several familiar faces resurfaced following a proposed deal on new collective bargaining agreement was reached on Sunday, bringing to an end the NHL work stoppage.
The team will continue informal workouts in Brandon throughout the remainder of the week, but here are a few quick highlights from the week so far:
THE RETURN OF THE KING
Fans in Brandon stood and applauded Tuesday morning to officially welcome back the NHL’s reigning goal-scoring champion, Steven Stamkos, back to Tampa Bay.
Tuesday marked Stamkos’ first day back on the ice with the rest of his teammates after he flew in from Toronto, where he spent the past several months training and working out with personal trainer and former Lightning forward Gary Roberts.
Although he expressed his excitement about being back in Tampa Bay and regarding the news of the season starting, he emphasized how important it will be for both himself and his teammates to gain sufficient rest before the shortened season starts, which will undoubtedly put an extra strain on players to perform at a high level on a consistent basis.
“It’s going to be different this year,” Stamkos said. “It’s a sprint, but our goal is really get out to a fast start and make the playoffs. We all saw what this team was capable a few years ago, so looking ahead to this season I’m excited to get another opportunity to do that.”
The time away was tough, but now we’re all back here and ready to go. - Steven Stamkos
Stamkos also added that despite the sudden rush of getting things in place for the start of the season, he feels good and is anxious to get going.
“It feels really good and I’m excited to be back with all these guys,” he added. “The time away was tough, but now we’re all back here and ready to go. Like I said it’s going to be a short season, but we’ll try to make the best of it.”
BACK IN BUSINESS
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher addressed the media during a scrum on Monday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum where he had a simple message for his team this season.
“Start fast, have a good beginning, have a good ending,” he said.
With the shortened season, Boucher mentioned the importance of getting off to a fast start and emphasized how detrimental a losing streak, or even dwelling on a single loss, could ultimately result in the difference between making and missing the playoffs.
He also expressed that his team would need to play with an added sense of urgency and unrivaled intensity night in and night out since there is so much to gain in just a short time.
“The intensity of the games is going to be extremely high,” Boucher said. “You're going to see guys battling with everything they've got.”
HALL IN THE FAMILY
Adam Hall, fresh off a return from Europe, said that he “spent a lot of time babysitting” over the past few months watching over his eight-month old son, Evan.
Nate Thompson returned to Brandon Tuesday for his second day of informal practice with the team.
When asked how the little guy was doing, Hall simply replied “he’s good,” but also added that he might be taking after his dad just a bit too soon.
The forward said that for Christmas, he and his wife, Deena, bought their son a miniature hockey stick which was supposed to be used for hitting a few foam pucks around the house. Instead, Hall’s shins took the brunt of the abuse.
Hall said that oftentimes when his son was having a conniption common to children that age, he would give him the hockey stick to play with in order to appease him. Evan, however, took a liking to whacking his father in the legs, which left bruises up and down that took a few days to heal.
“I guess that was his way of getting me ready for the season,” Hall said. “Then I thought, you know, maybe getting him that hockey stick wasn’t such a good idea.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Ryan Malone has a fresh new haircut that he debuted on Monday, a consequence of a truce between himself and former Lightning teammate Mike Smith to see who could go the longest without getting a trim. Malone said both he and Smith lasted for approximately two years, but both agreed to make a trip to the barber shop when the locks became too unbearable.
Defenseman Matt Carle revealed Tuesday that he was asked to be cast in the 2012 movie This Is 40. The filming, which he said began about two years ago in 2010, was arranged through former Flyers teammate Ian LaPerriere after the casting director was looking for, as Carle put it, “a couple of extras with no teeth.” Carle said he enjoyed the experience and called it “one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.”
Carle, along with Nate Thompson, both skated in Brandon for the first time on Tuesday.