NHL Team Guide: Tampa Bay Lightning
The NHL announced in the late 1980s the league would expand. The Tampa Bay Lighting was one of two teams to begin play in 1992, the same year the franchise was founded. Despite their short history, the Lightning have experienced their share of success.
After a year in the old Campbell Conference, the NHL realigned in 1993 and the Lighting were moved to the Eastern Conference (then known simply as the East). Tampa Bay is one of eight teams that plays in the Atlantic Division and one of 16 in the conference.
The team has become so popular that the Tampa Bay TV schedule includes several nationally televised games on NBC or NBCSN. Fans can also watch Tampa Bay Lightning games on TV and stream on the FOX Sports GO app. Locally, FOX Sports Sun broadcasts almost every game on the Lightning schedule.
Success did not come immediately to the Lightning franchise. Tampa Bay did make the NHL playoffs in their fourth season but did not become a regular until after its first decade in the league. The Lightning won division titles in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and won the franchise’s only Stanley Cup at the end of the 2003-04 season. Tampa Bay has made a total of 11 NHL playoff appearances: 1995-96, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18, 2018-19. In addition to the division titles won in 2003 and 2004, the Lightning also captured division titles in 2018 and 2019 for a total of four.
The Lightning's Home
Tampa Bay plays its home games in the Amalie Arena, formerly known as the Ice Palace. The arena, named for sponsor Amalie Oil Company, was built in 1996 and seats 19,092 fans for hockey games. The Lightning won their first game in Amalie Arena beating the New York Rangers 5-2 in 1996.
Martin St. Louis played 13 seasons for Tampa Bay and is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. He played 972 games with the Lightning, scored 365 goals and totaled 953 points. St. Louis was a six-time All-Star and won the Hart Memorial Trophy (league MVP) and Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) in 2003-04. He became the oldest player to ever lead the league in scoring in 2012-13 at the age of 37. St. Louis’s No. 26 is the first number in franchise history to be retired.
The second Lightning player to have his number retired was C Vinny Lecavalier. Drafted first by Tampa Bay in 1998, Lecavalier played 14 seasons with the club and is the team’s second-leading all-time scorer. He scored 383 goals and recorded 874 total points. Lecavalier won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2007 as the NHL’s leading goal scorer. He finished the season with 52 goals.
The Lightning currently have two players – Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov – that are likely to have their jerseys retired. Stamkos holds the franchise record for goals with 393 and Kucherov (462 points) has the highest points per game average at 1.04, just slightly higher than Stamkos’s 1.03. Kucherov led the NHL in points with 128 in 2018-19. Stamkos has topped the NHL in goals twice. He scored 51 in 2009-10 and 60 in the 2011-12 season.
Author: Dan Anderson