Lightning News & Rumors: Stamkos, Jersey Numbers & More

In this edition of Tampa Bay Lightning News & Rumors, we’ll discuss adventures of the Stanley Cup, fan base confidence, new jersey numbers, and more.

Stamkos Day

Aug. 28 is no longer just an ordinary day, well at least not in the City of Markham in Ontario, Canada. The mayor of the city has deemed it Steven Stamkos Day.

The 31-year-old captain of the Lightning was very proud to bring the Stanley Cup to his hometown saying,

“Everyone on stage and my dad Chris, everyone’s been working behind the scenes to try to organize this as best we could to get as many kids out here to celebrate the Stanley Cup. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about sharing this amazing piece of history with everyone who has helped me along the way.”

-Steven Stamkos

The event was held outside of where Stamkos’ journey as a hockey player began, Crosby Memorial Community Centre in Unionville. Current members of the Markham Waxers, his former youth team, were in attendance, too. After not getting a day with the Cup following the Lightning’s 2019-20 Stanley Cup Championship, Stamkos got to enjoy two days with Stanley Cup this time around.

Model Franchise

For the sixth straight season, The Athletic conducted a survey to determine how much confidence each fan base has in their team’s front office. They received nearly 17,000 responses from fans about their favorite team. Teams were graded on several categories including roster building, cap management, drafting and development, trading, free agency, and vision. (‘2021 NHL front office rankings: Fans weigh in on every team’ by Dom Luszczyszyn, The Athletic, 8/25/21) So, who took the top spot? The Lightning.

Quite frankly, it would have been shocking if it were any other team. The results speak for themselves. In the last eight seasons, the Lightning have made seven playoff appearances, five Conference Final appearances, and have won two Stanley Cups in three Final appearances. The Lightning’s front office has done a masterful job of drafting hidden gems, developing their youngsters, and trading for the final puzzle pieces. All things considered, they had another tremendous summer and the team looks poised to make another run at the Cup this season.

Family First

After five seasons with the Lightning organization, Caley Chelios has resigned from her position as a digital reporter and road radio color commentator in order to focus on her family.

Chelios and her husband, former NFL fullback Danny Vitale, are expecting the birth of their second child in the near future. Their first child, Bella, was born shortly after the 2019-20 season was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The young family will put down roots in the suburbs of Chicago where they recently purchased a house. When reflecting on her time with the Lightning, Chelios said,

“One of the most surreal experiences I had with the Lightning was the night they won the Stanley Cup for the second-straight season after beating Montreal in Game 5. I got to come back to the arena for the first time in a year and a half. Getting to see everybody and be back in an arena was such a strange situation, and it felt like I’d never left even though I was gone for so long. And then watching everybody celebrate and enjoy the win together after what was such a hard year was pretty surreal…”

-Caley Chelios

Chelios was well-liked among Lightning fans and will be missed. Best of luck, Caley!

New Numbers

The Lightning have announced the jersey numbers of the team’s newest members!

Zach Bogosian, who returns to the Lightning after a one-season stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, will wear number 24. Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who signed identical two-year contracts this offseason, will wear 10 and 41, respectively. 36-year-old netminder Brian Elliot will wear number one as he enters the 16th season of his career.

Meant to Be

Just a few days after winning their second straight Stanley Cup Championship, Ryan McDonagh and Pat Maroon took the Stanley Cup for a joy ride in their golf cart. That is when Maroon’s son, Anthony, had a brilliant idea. They decided to stop and surprise a random Bolts fan. Little did they know just how big of an impact they would have.

They ultimately stopped at the Pennington’s house, which had a large Lightning sign outside of their home. In June of 2020, the family’s oldest son, Bryan, tragically passed away in a motor vehicle accident (“‘He sent you here’: How a surprise visit with the Stanley Cup delivered joy amid sadness” by Joe Smith, The Athletic, 8/24/21). Bryan was a huge sports fan and rarely missed a Lightning game. His mom, Luci, noted that Bryan always said the Lightning were going to win the Cup. The Penningtons were overcome with emotions during the visit. Reminiscing about the tear-filled moment, Maroon stated,

“It was a very special moment in my career. It’s not just about winning the Cup. It’s showing up to the house and seeing what that meant to her and meant a lot to her son, too. Those are the moments we live for as athletes.”

“‘He sent you here’: How a surprise visit with the Stanley Cup delivered joy amid sadness” by Joe Smith, The Athletic, Aug 24, 2021

That moment was simply meant to be.

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