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More cup cheers ... and some jeers

Published June 13, 2004

Thanks, guys

What a joy to finally see a complete team of world champion role models who are not prima donna, in-your-face exhibitionists.

Hopefully, football, basketball and all the other professional sports teams will take notice.

I'm a new fan; not because of the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, but because of the humble, respectful and classy role model qualities of all the championship Lightning players and their coaches.

From my viewpoint, they're the best of all professional sports teams.

-- Richard Kwiecienski, Homosassa

It is hard to believe in this day and age that a professional championship can be won by a team not filled with trash-talkers, ex-cons, players under house arrest, in rehab, wife beaters and various other marginal characters who feel we don't understand their circumstances.

Maybe it's just the sport of hockey that develops better character in a player, but for sure, the Lightning team has class and lots of it. There were lots of opportunities for players on both teams to bad-mouth one another, but what happened? No one blamed someone else for a loss or a bad play.

Wow, what a concept. I think it's called character and taking responsibility. I only hope it is catching and other professional athletes catch it.

As for the fans of Calgary and Tampa Bay, they're again nothing but class.

-- George Springer Sr., Tampa

This team deserves the thanks of everyone in the Tampa Bay area. It has brought praise and economic gains to our area.

It has our heartfelt thanks for its hard work and dedication to the sport and the community.

-- Bill Hoelzle, Largo

Way to go, team! Everybody knew something special was happening last year. You guys came together as a team and grew. It translated to another great year, culminating with the most revered trophy in all of professional sports, the Stanley Cup.

It means so much to all of us in the community to see your hard work and perseverance. I cannot believe how far you have come from your beginning days in the Expo Hall to the ThunderDome to the St. Pete Times Forum and bringing the Cup here to the Tampa Bay area.

Dave Andreychuk, thanks for your leadership. Martin St. Louis, thanks for your determination, especially when everyone doubted you except for yourself. Vinny Lecavalier, thanks for showing us how tough and great a player you can be and stepping up to the challenge. Brad Richards, thanks for being the MVP of the playoffs. Ruslan Fedotenko, thanks for providing crucial goals (maybe the understatement of the year) and toughness that were key in winning this championship.

I cannot possibly thank everyone on the team personally. I wish I could because everybody contributed to this championship. The true definition of teamwork was played out in front of us all season. Everybody was great all year, and it has been my and my family and friends' pleasure to watch all of you perform.

My only regret is I cannot be in the Tampa Bay area to share the moment, but there are many here in Tallahassee who are relishing in your success. Thanks, guys. Rest well this offseason. You deserve it.

-- Mike Watson, Tallahassee

Thank you, Kerry Fraser, for having the guts to make the correct call in the final minute of Game 7.

Great job, Coach Tortorella and the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now we need to win a World Series.Randy Waz, New Port Richey

I started watching hockey before my 4th birthday. By the time I was 9, I was a true Buffalo Sabres fan. It was that year, 1983, that my father took me to my first open practice. A young player named Dave Andreychuk was very impressive. He instantly became my favorite player. My father couldn't have known at the time that my family would spend the next 20-plus years following Andreychuk's career.

I drove quite a few people crazy over the years by rattling off statistics. Anyone who knew me knew who I was talking about when I said Dave, and nobody had to ask the significance of the No. 25.

In Buffalo, it was very easy to hang around after a training camp practice and talk to the players. I've been lucky enough to meet Andreychuk quite a few times. Through a child's eyes and now as an adult looking back, I cannot speak highly enough about the time he took to talk to a bunch of hockey-crazed kids.

I also cannot count the number of community events that Andreychuk made himself available for. Not only was he involved in the higher profile charities, but he even attended many of the smaller events, such as the community baseball/softball league picnics.

Monday night was such a thrill for me. As my husband and I watched the final 20 seconds tick away, I dialed my parents on the phone. My mother answered. I quickly told her that if she wanted to see Dave Andreychuk lift the Stanley Cup, it was time. I was so happy for him that I realized I was crying.

In a world where true sports heroes are not always easy to find, I realize how lucky I was to have had 22 seasons to watch Dave Andreychuk. My family has cheered him on while rooting for six teams (Buffalo, Toronto, New Jersey, Boston, Colorado and now Tampa Bay). My husband and I always watch him play when he comes to Buffalo.

Over 20 years have passed, and my own children are just starting to show interest in sports. I can only hope they are lucky enough to find a sports hero with such class, on and off the playing field.

So thank you, Dave Andreychuk. I'm hoping for another season. But if you choose to retire, thank you for a wonderful ride. Congratulations to you, your teammates, the organization and Tampa Bay.

-- Jessica Fish, East Amherst, N.Y.

Oh, Tampa Bay: congrats

As difficult as it was for me to watch my beloved Flames lose the Cup, I can honestly say that I am very happy for Tampa Bay, both the city and the hockey club.

Dave Andreychuk must be thrilled to be hoisting the Cup after so many years of trying.

Your fans are as supportive of your team as we are of ours, and what would hockey be without the fans?

I was in Calgary when we won the Cup in 1989, and I'll never forget the excitement and pride of a first-time win. Now the excitement and pride are yours. Congratulations to you all. Enjoy the celebration.

-- Angelina Sparrow, Calgary

A few other Canadian journalists and I were talking (before Game 7), not only about the Tampa Bay-Calgary Stanley Cup final, but whether, on this 60th anniversary of D-day and the many lives that were lost by both Canadians and Americans on the beaches of Normandy, Tampa Bay fans would boo the Canadian national anthem.

The bottom line is that Tampa Bay fans were - from start to finish - a class act. We all heard the respectful applause at the end of our national anthem, which means as much to us as your Star Spanged Banner means to you. I can only hope we would have acted with such distinction had the seventh game been played here in Canada. Tampa Bay fans were respectful, emotional and loyal to their team but showing the class deserving of this particular day.

Their behavior will not go down in history beside the historic events of World War II. They will not likely be remembered alongside Tampa Bay's first Stanley Cup. In fact, the fans of Tampa Bay may never be fully recognized for their courtesy.

But they will be remembered in a few obscure Canadian newspapers, radio stations and, maybe, a TV station or two in far away Canada.

-- Pete Desrochers, GhostWriters International Canada

I want to congratulate the Tampa Bay Lightning on its Stanley Cup victory. It was an outstanding final, and Tampa Bay had that little extra in its tank for Game 7. Here in Calgary, we are a little down after the defeat but still very proud of our hometown heroes. I hope Tampa Bay enjoys and appreciates the hard work the Lightning showed throughout the playoffs.

-- Bob Lagimodiere, Calgary

The Canadian media did not represent Canadian sentiment. As a Canadian, I not only congratulate the Lightning on its first Stanley Cup, but also the people of Tampa Bay in their historic win. Hockey is a game we share between our nations, with Americans and Canadians pursuing their love of the game on both sides of the border.

I, along with many other Canadian fans, were rooting for the Lightning and rejoice in the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Dave Andreychuk and his team. As a Canadian who has attended a number of games at the St. Pete Times Forum, I can say Tampa Bay fans are great. Enjoy your win.

-- Rob Russell, Ontario

I just wanted to write to all the Lightning fans and the people of Tampa Bay. This series was the most fun to watch because of the level of hockey played.

It is truly too bad only one team could win the final prize as both teams so richly deserved it. The Lightning is going to be a great team to watch for years to come.

-- Jason Sand, Bowden, Alberta

Rude Lightning fans

While the Tampa Bay Lightning fans who traveled to Calgary during the Stanley Cup final series were treated with hospitality and good-natured teasing from Calgary Flames fans, the same could not be said for Flames fans in Tampa Bay.

To the fans who screamed verbal abuse at the nice woman wearing the Iginla jersey and in tears after the game Monday night, I say congratulations, jerks. You insulted Jarome Iginla's mom, Susan Schuchard, and Calgary Flames fans everywhere with your crass behavior.

Don't forget that if there were a camera angle that showed definitively that Martin Gelinas' shot in Game 6 crossed the goal line, it might've been the Flames and not the Lightning hoisting the Cup.

-- Lois Stucken, Calgary

Game 6 robbery

As we all now know from analysis of the video from the game, the Flames should have won the Stanley Cup in Game 6 based on Martin Gelinas' goal.

Based on the pathetic incompetence and blatantly obvious bias of the referees and the interference from the head office, the NHL now has less credibility than wrestling.

-- D. Martin, Calgary

To all of Tampa Bay, new evidence is available of the Martin Gelinas goal from Game 6. It was taken by a nonbiased photographer from a better angle and closer to the net than the center-ice replay camera of the replay judge/referee.

It clearly shows the puck crossed the goal line of Tampa Bay's goal/net. This means (Nikolai Khabibulin) did not make the save and Calgary won Game 6 in regulation and should be Stanley Cup champion. The Flames are not because the replay judge/referee did not use better definition or high clarity/resolution cameras to capture the image and make the call and they will not use a nonbiased, third-party image of the goal because the referees are too proud to admit they were wrong.

So consider the Cup on loan, Tampa Bay, for the time being, until we come and get it next year.

-- A. De Capite, Calgary

Coverage was a winner

Thank you for your fun and thorough coverage of the Stanley Cup final. Although the Calgary Flames beat our Vancouver Canucks and became "Canada's team," I always rooted for Tampa Bay. The Lightning's speed, finesse and determination is what great hockey is all about. And thanks to, the thrill of being a Tampa Bay fan was available to me up here.

-- Heather Tak, West Vancouver, British Columbia

Many thanks to the entire staff of the St. Petersburg Times for your excellent coverage of the Lightning playoff run. Virtually every section of the paper did a fantastic job contributing to the hockey excitement of these past few months.

My family will miss the amazing photos, humorous stories (including which actors will play which players in the movie version of our local Miracle), terrific sports commentary and the human interest articles about the various superstitions we all adopted to try to help our team.

We owe a debt of gratitude to you and the Lightning. It was a lot of fun. I must add, though, that the tension of the games was very stressful. I am somewhat relieved that it is finally over. Now I can breath again and get my heart rate back to normal.

-- Eric Ludin, Largo [Last modified June 12, 2004, 23:37:23]

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