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Lightning prospects cherish 2011-12 AHL championship rings, memories

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Six months after Lightning prospects captured the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Championship, history was still “ringing” true in the state of New York on Monday night.

Literally, that is.

Members of last season’s 2011-12 Admirals Calder Cup-winning squad received their AHL championship rings at a private team gathering in Syracuse to commemorate a job well done and to officially cap off what proved to be both a historic and unforgettable season.

In total, all but two members – Alex Picard and Jaroslav Janus who currently are both playing in Europe – from last season’s team attended the function, making for a reunion of sorts amongst now-former teammates.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, along with Bolts assistant general manager Julien BriseBois who also serves as general manager of the AHL club, both were present at the event and distributed the rings to players before following up with a few congratulatory remarks.

The championship was a great source of pride for the organization. - Julien BriseBois

“The championship was a great source of pride for the organization,” BriseBois said. “The rings are a small memento that hopefully will bring back memories of the challenges that were met and the special lifelong bonds that were created during our run. We saw proof of the special nature of these relationships by how everyone was so eager to fly or drive to Syracuse to attend this event.”

In June, the Bolts’ top minor-league affiliate changed cities, names, jerseys, and to a degree, even some on-ice personnel, but for the individuals who transferred over from Norfolk to Syracuse this past summer, the memories remain constant.

The rings, of course, serve as a permanent reminder of that.

Designed by players and personnel from both Tampa Bay and Norfolk, the rings feature .12 karats of diamond, six karats of solid white gold with a polished finish and four genuine three-point S12 diamonds in the rim. Also displayed are set cubic zirconias behind an enameled crest with yellow gold stars, raised names and numbers of each player and detailed shanks with each postseason opponent’s logo and playoff series record.

In addition, the piece features several phrases such as “We Are Young,” referencing the popular song which became the team’s official anthem; “One, Two, Three, Blue Machine,” signifying the team’s chant often heard following practices and games; and “28 straight,” recognizing the professional hockey record 28-game win streak the team ripped off that spanned the better part of three months from February to April.

The numbers “113,” symbolizing the final number of regular-season points in the standings, and “76,” referencing Rule 76 from the movie Wedding Crashers – “No excuses, play like a champion” – are engraved on the outside of the ring as well.

For the AHL’s 2011-12 Outstanding Rookie Award-winner Cory Conacher, the ring contains “a big wow factor.”

“It’s incredible,” Conacher added. “A big credit to Steve Yzerman, Julien BriseBois and the organization.”

A fellow rookie from last season, Tyler Johnson, simply called it “amazing,” while adding that the memento “is everything a player could ever want in a championship ring.”

But beyond the gold, glitter and glitz of it all is a more, and perhaps even the most, symbolic meaning of what the ring represents.

“When I look at it, it’s not the size of the ring that really impresses me,” captain Mike Angelidis said. “It’s the pride it symbolizes and the memories I get when I look at it of how hard our team worked, how the guys came together, the chemistry we had and the special bond we formed with each other.”

Whether Angelidis realized it or not, it sounds as if the ring itself isn’t the only thing comprising a perfect fit.

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