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Phil Esposito, You spoil us

Usually I don't hand out much respect for Phil Esposito. I do thank him for bringing Hockey to Tampa Bay but I really believe part of what went wrong with the Lightning was his insistence on having veterans on the roster and not young guys with upside...

I mean, Ives Racine? Paul Ysebart? Trading away five draft picks for Renberg? Bill Ranford? Etc, etc, etc...

But Phil left us one thing that I truly, greatly and deeply appreciate, and that is the draft class of 1998...

Oh, the Lecavalier pick was a gimmie so I don't give him too many props for that, and the Brad Richards pick was at Lecavalier's urging which is also a bit of a cop out... but there were two more picks that have cracked the Lightning lineup this year and at least one of them seems like a future mainstay on the roster. Those picks are Dmitry Afansenkov and Martin Cibak.

Of the previous 3 drafts before 1998 -- only 3 players remain with the Lightning (and one of them did not break into the NHL with the Lightning -- Shane Willis). Look over the draft classes and out of all of them, a few names stand out but for the most part - the draft and Phil's overseeing of it had been dismal.

Of course, someone will jump up and say he liked what Phil did better than anything Rick Dudley did but I ask -- who put most of the current players on the roster on the team? Richards was signed by Dudley, Modin and St. Louis were both Dudley acquisitions as was Tim Taylor and Dave Andreychuk. I don't know when Cibak or Afansenkov signed but compared to how many of the past players (under Espo's tenure) remained with the Lightning, I'm willing to be Dudley was More likely to have signed these players than Espo.

At any rate, i give thanks to Phil for having one good draft year out of the 7 he oversaw.... I don't question your passion for this team and how it is indeed your baby and your creation... I just think you were a lousy Gm. No offense.