Over the years since major league professional sports came to Tampa Bay, local teams have employed the services of local players, kids who grew up rooting for the home team and later found themselves wearing the uniform. St. Petersburg's Shaun King quarterbacked the Buccaneers into the NFL playoffs while Doug Waechter and Tino Martinez are just two area baseball players to suit up for the Rays.
Until last week, for a variety of reasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning had yet to have an opportunity to dip into the pool of homegrown talent. That changed when Cody Bradley was invited to the recently completed prospects camp in Brandon.
Cody is the son of former Lightning all-star Brian Bradley. As such, he's not only the first local player to don the Lightning crest (or that of any NHL team, for that matter), he's also the first second-generation Bolt. He's a 5'10" forward who went to Freedom High School and played for Dubuque of the USHL last season, where he tallied seven goals and four assists in 16 games played. He's accepted a full scholarship to Colorado College and will be enrolling this fall.
During the three-on-three portion of camp, he scored three goals and netted an assist in six games. It's not exactly a case of ‘like father, like son' though.
"He's got a lot of skill. His game actually reminds me of Brad Richards", says Brian Bradley. "He sees the ice well and he's an effective playmaker. I wish he'd shoot a little more but that's okay."
Cody is too young to remember his dad's career with the Lightning but he grew up a fan of the team. "I learned from watching Vinny (Lecavalier) and Brad and Marty (St. Louis), seeing those guys win a championship. They inspired me to work hard,"he says. "Marty is a really good example for me to follow. Here's a guy who went undrafted and that's my situation now. He never quit and now he's an all star."
Brian says, "He's got skill but he's just young. Three or four years of hard work and there's no reason he can't have a shot."
For now, just a taste of the pro game will suffice. "Every day, I dreamed of playing for the Lightning. So just to get a chance to be here, wearing this uniform, it's already like a dream come true".