There isn’t much going on in the world of the Tampa Bay Lightning to write about these days so I figured it would be a good excuse to yet again write about something that happened in the distant past. In this case - a random game from the 1999-2000 season.
To be exact, the game took place on a Sunday at 6:00pm on November 7th, 1999. The Lightning, coming off a 7-4 victory in Pittsburgh the night before, were hosting the Detroit Red Wings. Why that game? Mainly because I was there. I reached into the bag of ticket stubs and pulled this out:
That’s right, just $10.00 and I had a nice seat in Section 308 right near the aisle. I believe this was one of the years I had a partial season ticket plan and if so, my friend Mike was probably in Seat 1 enjoying the misery right along with me.
Were we excited to see the Lightning take on a Red Wings team that featured Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Brandon Shanahan, Igor Larionov, and Larry Murphy? Well, sure, how often do you get to see that many future Hall of Fame players play for the same team? Surely, they would skate circles around a Lightning team that featured the likes of Ian Herbers, Sergei Gusev, Steve Guolla, Steve Martins, and Dan Kesa.
Well, what on paper should have been a bloodbath turned into an upset as the Lightning beat the Red Wings, 3-2. The win marked the first time Tampa Bay had beaten Detroit at home since 1992. Even more surprising was that it was in front of a rather large crowd. According to newspaper reports 19,758 fans packed the Ice Palace on that fine Sunday evening. Unfortunately, as was the case in those days, a large percentage of the fan were wearing the rival Red Wing colors.
After allowing a shorthanded goal to their future GM Steve Yzerman in the first period, the Lightning scored three straight against Ken Wregget (who remembers him as a Detroit goaltender? Not me!) and held on for the victory after Sergei Federov scored early in the third period. Fredrick Modin, Chris Gratton, and Darcy Tucker scored for the Lightning. For Yzerman it was his 36th point in just 19 games against the team that he would one day lead.
Kevin Hodson was in net for the Bolts and picked up his first win of the season. Making it even sweeter was that it came against the team that had traded him to Tampa Bay the previous season. Hodson was in net to spell normal starter Dan Cloutier who had taken over as the number one goalie since Daren Puppa was injured.
Tucker scrapped it up with Shanahan at the end of the game after the Lightning forward accused the future czar of league discipline of attempting to slew-foot him. Tucker told the St. Petersburg Times, “You don’t have to make a cheap play like that. I told him it was a cheap shot and he came down with a stick over the head. That’s part of the game I guess.”
Not only were things chippy on the ice, but apparently off the ice as well. Detroit head coach Scotty Bowman was fined $1,000 by the league for pushing a Sunshine Sports cameraman. Steve Yzerman and Martin Lapointe also had issues with another cameraman, with Yzerman trying to grab the camera and Lapoint alledgedly spitting at him over the glass, leading the camerman, Julien Petrocky to say of Lapointe, “He’s just an overrated, overpaid brat.”
Vincent Lecavalier had his goal scoring streak snapped at five games, but did pick up an assist on Modin’s second period goal. The win was the Lightning’s third in four games and upped their record to 5-6-1. Things were actually looking pretty good for the Lightning, well at least for another month.
In other sports news from that day, Trent Dilfer led the Buccaneers to a 31-16 win over the Saints, Tiger Woods won his fourth straight PGA tournament, and Tony Stewart picked up his second career NASCAR victory.
I don’t remember much from the game (benefits of being an old man), but it was around the time I was taking my camera to the games and I thought I remembered taking some photos pregame. So I dug through my old photo box and sure enough I found 18 photos of the Lightning pregame warm-up, including this one of an oh-so-young Vinny Lecavalier.
News and Notes:
NHL Commissioner (and Hall of Famer) Gary Bettman chatted about the possible restart of the season during a Leaders Week conference. There wasn’t much new news from his comments other than that they were looking at “eight or nine different places” that could host multiple teams for the restart. As usual, there are too many unknown factors at this time for any concrete plans to be made, but it does look like the league is continuing to explore all options.
Lightning prospect Boris Katchouk gave an interview to The Sault Star in which he talked about his future wishes in regards to hockey. Unsurprisingly, he thinks he has what it takes to play in the NHL in the near future:
“I’m confident I can make the jump,” said Katchouk, who has played both left wing and centre for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. “I’ d like to believe I’m getting closer to making the Lightning,”
The second year player, who played for the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Soo Thunderbirds, went on to say that “constant production” is the way he’s going to make it to the Lightning. That means, in addition to putting up points, he also has to play a “200-foot game, and [compete] hard every night.” Those words are exactly what Coach Cooper wants to hear. If he continues to play that way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in the NHL in 2020-21.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Katchouk on the taxi squad once/if the playoffs get underway. Until then, Fox Sports Florida is helping Lightning fans get their hockey fix by opening up their “vault”.
Throughout next week they will be re-airing classic Lightning games including the inaugural game against the Blackhawks, the franchise’s first playoff win, the first playoff series win, Games 5 and 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals against the Penguins, and Jason Garrison’s historic overtime goal against the Panthers in 2015. Personally, I think they should dig out some random midseason games that include losses just to keep viewers guessing.
God bless the Detroit media. Knowing that just about all playoff scenarios leave the Red Wings on the sidelines, they’ve moved on to possible free agent targets. There are no Lightning names on this list (although old friend Vlad Namestnikov does pop up) that doesn’t mean Steve Yzerman won’t give his old protege Julien Brisebois a call to help out with his need for scoring.
That’s it for today. Go forth and make it a good day (and keeping washing your hands).