Can Lightning Strike Twice?
It has not been a banner season for the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the second consecutive year, the Lightning will finish with the NHL’s worst record. They also are the league’s worst defensive team. They are now going on their third ownership in the last two years. They are the only team in the NHL whose general manager is also its coach. Things couldn’t look bleaker…or could they?
After finishing last overall in 1998, the Lightning took its first step towards respectability in drafting centre Vincent Lecavalier. The 6-4 rookie is obviously going through some growing pains with the league’s doormat. However, he is progressing nicely since the all-star break and looks every bit the franchise player he was selected to be. Similarly, Pavel Kubina just might be the best-looking rookie defenseman in the NHL this season. Furthermore, the trade deadline was a fruitful exercise for the Lightning this season, acquiring two young players with promise: defenseman Sergei Gusev and left winger Colin Forbes. In goal, after a few seasons of frustrating veterans Daren Puppa and Bill Ranford, the Bolts now have an interesting combination of Corey Schwab and newly-acquired Kevin Hodson.
Player: Mario Larocque
Date of Birth: April 24, 1978
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 195 lbs
YEAR TEAM LGE GP G A PTS PIM
1995-96 Hull QMJHL 68 7 19 26 196
1996-97 Hull QMJHL 64 13 37 50 160
1997-98 Sherbrooke QMJHL 28 6 10 16 125
1998-99 Tampa Bay NHL 5 0 0 0 16
1998-99 Cleveland IHL 48 3 7 10 162
Mario was selected by Tampa Bay in the 1st round (16th) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Last year Mario played in the QMJHL with Sherbrooke Faucons and was limited to 28 games due to an injury. he played 2 full seasons with Hull of the QMJHL and finished 2nd in scoring for defenceman in 95-96 season with 26 points as a 17 year old rookie. Was named to the 1995-96 QMJHL All-Rookie Teams. Mario scored 50 points in his 2nd seson if junior hockey and finished 1st among Hull defencemen with a + 48 +/- . He posted a +20 in 14 playoff games as Hull won the Memorial Cup. Mario made his NHL debut in his hometown of Montreal Quebec with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Read more»
Player: Karel Betik
Date of Birth: October 10, 1978
Birthplace: Ostrava, Czech Republic
Acquired: Tampa Bay’s 5th Choice. 112 overall
in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft
Regular Season Playoffs
Year Team Lge GP G A PTS PIM GP G A PTS PIM
96-97 Kelowna WHL 56 3 10 13 76 6 1 1 2 2
97-98 Kelowna WHL 61 5 25 30 121 7 1 2 3 8
98-99 Cleveland IHL 60 5 9 14 91
98-99 Tampa Bay NHL 3 0 2 2 2
Although things look pretty bad at the moment for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the future holds some real promise with their stable of young players. Led by last years overall number one pick, Vincent LeCavalier, the Bolts have a core of solid and talented players who should propel this team back into playoff contention within the next few years. The one factor that puts a little bit of a damper on the fans optimism is that the majority of their younger players are still in Juniors and are not ready to make the leap for at least another two years. Under the supervision of Head Scout Don Murdoch, Tampa Bay has had a top ten rated draft the last 5 years. Bad decisions and lack of patience by previous management has led the team to bail out on some of their promising young guns and they are forced to pretty much start over. Seeing that the Ottawa Senators have taken same track that the Lightnings current staff wants to take, and in light of their recent success, hopes abound for fans in the Sunshine State. Despite the rankings of this website, currently 16th,I personally feel that they have good depth in the organization.
Why would any team trade their best player for Alexandre Daigle? Jacques Demers sure answered that question when he said he was capable of being the first-line winger in his first game. He has the potential to be a highly touted superstar in this league? Sure fooled anyone who thought he’d excel in Philly. Is this a joke, or does Jacques have something up his sleeve for Alex? It is the third time this year the new GM has dealt with the Flyers, picking up Chris Gratton again, Mike Sillinger, and Petr Svoboda. He must know what he’s doing, because look what he did with players such as Gerard Gallant and Bernie Federko? They don’t sound like big names do they? Bernie is on his way to the hall of fame. Gerard Gallant played good hockey in his final years in the league, mixing grit with pure goal scoring, all because of Jacques Demers.
FIRST ROUND CORNUCOPIA
There are now seven first-round picks on the team: Daigle, Chris Gratton, Wendel Clark, Jason Bonsignore, Paul Mara, Martin Larocque and Vincent Lecavalier. Out of the crop, only one has actually excelled into a complete player, while two others showed flashes of brilliance. Can you guess who they are? They brought back Chris Gratton in the infamous trade-back with Bob Clarke and the Flyers. The question now is, who are the Bolts going to build around? Roman Hamrlik looked like a great idea, but he got stolen by Glen Sather last year. Wendel Clark is bright, but he’s already on the trading block.
GOALTENDING Read more»