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Bradleys at home in Tampa

TOM JONES
Published June 6, 2004

CALGARY - He was born in Toronto, an Ontario boy through and through. He played there, too, fulfilling the dream of most Canadian kids by wearing the beloved blue Maple Leaf.

He played in Calgary and, just like all those who live or visit, fell in love with the hip town with a Western twang. His wife is a Calgary girl. That is where they met.

But to this Canadian, there is only one place he calls home: Tampa Bay.

Brian Bradley, the Lightning's first all-star, would not think of living anywhere else.

"That is my home, my kids were born there, it's the place they know," Bradley said. "I love Tampa. Now, it's our home."

Bradley was in Calgary Saturday for Game 6. So were his wife, Carrie, and his three kids: 11-year-old Brianne, 10-year-old Cody and 8-year-old Trey. The Bradleys have a home here, where they spend about two months a year during the summer.

But all of the Bradleys were rooting for the Lightning.

"My kids are crazy for the Lightning," Bradley said.

The same could be said for Bradley. Despite playing two seasons for the Maple Leafs and two more for the Flames, Bradley considers himself a Lightning player.

He was on the inaugural team. Actually, he was the star. He led that team with 42 goals and 80 points. He made the All-Star Game that season and the next when he had 24 goals and 40 assists.

For four consecutive seasons, Bradley led the team in points and was carving out an impressive career, one that was revived by joining the Lightning. He scored the first goal in St. Pete Times Forum history.

He was, simply put, the Best Player in Franchise History.

Then came the 1997-98 season when he sustained a concussion when he took a hit from the Kings' Phillipe Boucher. He figured he would be out a couple of games.

He never played again.

Post-concussion syndrome left him riddled with headaches. Riding a stationary bike for more than a few minutes caused migraines and vomiting. Even going for a walk around the block sent him crawling to bed for hours. He wondered if the headaches would ever go away, if he ever would lead a normal life.

Eventually the pain went away, but his career was over.

"No regrets," Bradley said. "And I have no bitterness. Do I wish I could have kept on playing? Of course, I wish I could be playing right now.

"But you know what? I look at this way: I got to play 12, 13 years in the NHL. I appreciate that, the fact that I got to do what every kid dreams of. I could've blown out my knee in my second year and never played again. I could've had this injury, the concussions, when I was a rookie and never played. Instead, I got to play a long time, so I'm not going to feel sorry for myself."

Bradley lives in Tampa these days and recently got involved in something called the Instant Traffic Reporter. It looks like a garage-door opener and clips on to the sun visor of a car. Turn it on and it gives instant traffic reports, including Amber Alerts.

In addition, Bradley has done work for Sunshine Network as an analyst on the Lightning pregame show during the postseason. Someday he wants to work full time on television for the Lightning. Not for the money, just to be around the game, just to be around the Lightning.

"This is my team," Bradley said. "Tampa is my home."

- On the Fly focuses on people, events and scenes around the game.

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