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The original product of "Tampacuse"

The affiliation between Tampa Bay and Syracuse has only been around for three full seasons but Syracuse has (indirectly) produced for the Lightning since its inception.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The nickname "Tampacuse" was bestowed upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and Syracuse Crunch development system as a byproduct of sorts. Tampa had been working on player development intensely since Steve Yzerman took over general manager duties in May of 2010, giving a new focus and weight to their then-AHL affiliate (the Norfolk Admirals) and its success or failure. When the Bolts founded an alliance with the Crunch in 2012, the Tampacuse moniker was coined by Bolt Prospects, a simple merger of the town names Tampa and Syracuse, and used heavily enough on Twitter that it went viral and became the unofficial nickname for the player development system for Tampa Bay.

Yet the Syracuse Crunch franchise has been around since 1994-95; owner Howard Dolgan's baby will be entering its 21st year of existence in 2015-16. Over that span there have been a lot of guys who played in Syracuse with one team affiliation or another who eventually made it to the NHL. Some of them also happened to find their way to 401 Channelside Drive to suit up for the Lightning. Each player has his own story that could be told about his time with the Lightning, but the focus here is simply the player, the years they served with the Crunch (and the parent affiliate at the time) and years spent with Tampa Bay.

Season (affiliation)


Tenure in Tampa Bay

1994-95 (Vancouver)

RW Dan Kesa


1994-95 (Vancouver)

D Jassen Cullimore

1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04

1994-95, 1995-96 (Vancouver)

D Adrian Aucoin


1998-99 (Vancouver)

F Kyle Feadrich

1999-2000, 2000-01

2007-08 (Columbus Blue Jackets)

C Zenon Konopka

2008-09, 2009-10

2008-09z, 2009-10
(Columbus Blue Jackets)

RW Mike Blunden


*Denotes still member of the Syracuse Crunch roster and could be recalled by Tampa Bay.

Defenseman Jassen Cullimore is probably the closest they come to being a true Tampacuse alum - and that's not specifically because of the length of his tenure in Tampa Bay. Cullimore, a product of the Canucks system, had been with their former AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Canucks, for two full seasons before the affiliation switched to Syracuse in its first year of existence. That same season, Cullimore saw his first NHL recall to Vancouver, playing 34 games with the Canucks and graduating to the NHL full time the next season.  That sounds mighty familiar, doesn't it? That's the type of path we saw players such as Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and others take - making their NHL debuts during the Bolts first season affiliated with Syracuse (the year of the affiliation founding).

Cully ended up with the Lightning by way of a waiver claim in 1997-98 made by then-GM Jacques Demers. Cullimore was with the Montreal Canadiens at the time and had seen himself demoted (and recalled) a few times while with Les Habs.

So, while we consider Tampacuse founded in 2012, Jassen Cullimore was still the fist (albeit indirect) product of it.