This memorable 2018-19 campaign for the Tampa Bay Lightning continues to be…well…memorable. Thus far it has been a season of multiple notable marks including dethroning Tampa Bay’s “Michael Jordan of Hockey” – also known as: Vincent Lecavalier – by way of tying and breaking his multiple Lightning records.
Of course, this is referring to Lecavalier’s franchise single-season point record – broken by the unhuman Nikita Kucherov a week ago – and Lecavalier’s franchise goal record – tied by Steven Stamkos just last Thursday night. Funny enough, both of these marks occurred on games against the Detroit Red Wings.
The latest note in the Bolts’ history books, Stamkos’ record-tying goal, shows how the Lightning forward has continued to impress through his tenure as team captain.
Now, this was a record that many expected the five-year Lightning captain to reach, including Lecavalier himself.
“It was just a matter of time. I’m happy for him,” said Lecavalier last week in an article from The Athletic.
The main difference between Lecavalier and Stamkos both scoring 383 goals as a Bolt is that Vinny took 1,037 games over 14 seasons to reach it, while Stammer needed just 735 games within 11 seasons.
In his first years in the NHL, Stamkos played with the talents of Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis for five years and nearly six, respectively. In just his first four NHL-career years, Stammer recorded three 90-plus point seasons (95, 91, 97) and two Rocket Richard trophies – his first in 2010 with 51 goals and the second coming in 2012 with 60.
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There is no doubt Stamkos’ time alongside St. Louis and Lecavalier contributed to his abilities as a leader since he filled the team captain vacancy after the St. Louis trade to the Rangers in April of 2014. With Stamkos as the Tampa Bay captain, the Bolts have reached the playoffs every year except for the 2016-17 season when Stamkos suffered a right knee injury in November that sidelined him for the rest of the year.
He has finished at least second best in scoring for the Lightning in all but his rookie season (when he finished third on the team), during years when he has been healthy for at least half of the season’s games.
While he will have to catch Brayden Point to finish in at least second place in Tampa Bay’s team scoring ranks this year, there is no doubt that his focus and vision is crystal clear. But that focus is not on scoring races, records nor streaks. It is on raising the greatest trophy in all of sports, as it has been since Stamkos was named captain of the Lightning.
“Steven Stamkos was destined to be the leader of our team,” said head coach Jon Cooper back in 2014 to NHL.com. “The fact that it’s happening now just puts us one step closer to achieving our ultimate goal, and that is trying to win the Stanley Cup.”
The sun has set on the prior Lightning eras of Vinny Lecavalier, Dave Andreychuk and Marty St. Louis, but it is shining brighter than ever in the current era of Steven Stamkos. And while his play on the ice continues to cement himself as the latest face in the “Mount Rushmore” for this franchise, that has a rich and continuously growing history, Stammer knows he won’t be satisfied until he is able to raise the Stanley Cup over his head, with a lightning bolt on his chest.