Saturday, June 7, 2008

It was four years ago today...

Say Yay for Tampa Bay!

I have a confession to make. I used to love the Tampa Bay Lightning. I didn't WANT to love Tampa; I was a happy, contented Flyers fan. But when the Flyers sent my beloved Rusty down to Tampa on draft day 2002, war was declared between us. Hell hath no fury like a fifteen year old girl separated from her fave of faves! The only plus to this trade was that now I could envision Rusty magically appearing at my school in his all white Tampa uniform to pick me up and carry me off into the sunset ala An Officer and a Gentleman. Other than that, it was a dark time in my hockey loving. Tampa was pretty sucktastic when Rusty first donned number seventeen, but they quickly turned into actual contenders for the Cup. And my undrafted, twelve-year-old looking Rusty was getting a regular shift! It was just so exciting! I was reminded of Tampa's Cup run last week when I stumbled upon this article. Thank you John Buccigross, for slipping something positive about my beloved into an article that really had nothing to do with Tampa:

"The last Stanley Cup finals game I had attended was June 7, 2004. Ruslan Fedotenko scored two goals in Game 7, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 2-1. No one mentioned that the Lightning did not have enough Canadian-born players. Ukrainians can come in handy, too."

I didn't actually see game seven live on TV. I know, sacrilege. But I had agreed to go to my cousin's eighth grade graduation before the playoffs had even started. So my memories of that game are different from most people's. I mostly recall standing in front of the church post-graduation and jumping up and down with my mom (who will continue to view Rusty as her son-in-law, despite the fact that he's twenty-nine and already married) when we heard that Rusty had scored Tampa's first goal. I then proceeded to scream and dance in the backseat of my aunt's car when I found out he scored the second and eventual Cup winning goal. Had I been home to really watch the Cup ceremony, I probably would have bawled. I was just so proud of my fave and his team, which then felt like my team. The next day, because I have the coolest dad ever, Pops and I drove to like every Wawa in our area and bought every newspaper we could find. I had a full range of headlines from "Chalice in Thunderland" to "Fedotenko Key Addition for Cup." The once cast-off Flyer had done pretty well for himself with his new team.

Love lift us up where we belong...

I don't think I can properly convey how exciting it is to closely follow a team and then see them win the Cup. You feel like you know the guys, that you're somehow a part of their run. They're the guys who'll be walking together forever, of course, but you supported them, so you feel forever attached to them too. Hence why I started losing interest in Tampa as the Cup team was dissembled and Rusty eventually fell out of favor and left. I joined Soph in her Sharks love, and I came back to enjoying the Flyers, but that Tampa Cup team will always have a special place in my hockey loving heart.

15 comments:

K-Mart said...

I liked Fedetenko when he was in Philly too, but not as much as Justin Williams. I however, did not start liking the Lightning because of the Fedetenko trade, and in fact I can't stand him anymore because he beat the Flyers in game 7 that year as well, and I will never forgive the Lightning for winning a Cup they had no business winning.

Jess said...

Ah sacrilege! I couldn't stand Justin Williams when he was here, ugh. I just don't know what it was but he really bugged me, even before I loved Rusty.

You mean everybody didn't immediately jump on the Bolts bandwagon because of Rusty? ;)

Yeah, I figured current Flyers fans would be bitter about how amazing he was against them in that ECF series. Well, simmer down, Tampa's back to being sucktastic and Rusty's career is on a bit of a downturn.

Jess said...

Oh, I meant to add, at least you liked Rusty when he was here. That's better than nothing. :)

kristin said...

I really hate being such a hockey newbie! I didn't even know he was a former Flyer...I just know him as the Islander that scored against us a lot this year! (well, it seemed like a lot, but it might have only been two goals...)

Soph said...

Jess, I've got my fingers crossed that Rusty will sign with the Flyers over the summer!

Soph said...

Or the Sharks!

Jess said...

Kristin, Rusty was a Flyer from 2000-02, so yeah, it was awhile ago for a hockey newbie! (You might recall Joni Pitkanen though, and that's who Rusty was traded for. Well, the draft pick that turned into Pitkanen.) Rusty started out as a call-up from the Phantoms and managed to stick around. I obviously can't watch him that much now, but he was really happy-go-lucky and enthusiastic as a Flyer. For me, he was really easy to like!

Soph, OMG I won't know what to do with myself if Rusty signs back with the Flyers! Or the Sharks. They could use someone with a Cup ring...

K-Mart said...

Rusty turned into Lupul and Gator essentially. But how could you not like Justin Williams? Trading him was a huge mistake. He's been great in Carolina... I also wish we would get Rod Brind A'mour back. He's one of my all time favorites, and it's hard to believe he's still in the league.

Jess said...

Yeah, Rusty turning into two of my current Flyer faves is pretty sweet!

I think the issue with me and Justin Williams was that I felt like he was shoved down my throat too much. Young guys who are high draft picks and get a lot of press before they've really proven themselves in the league tend to bug me. And then he jumped right into the NHL from junior so the buzz on him only amped up. (Does this make any sense? It's probably just a weird quirk of mine!) But yeah, trading Williams for Danny Markov? Not the best deal in Flyers history. And he (like Rusty) went on to win a Cup with another team, so I guess that says something.

I wish I had liked the Flyers more when Rod Brind'Amour was with them. He seemed like someone who truly bled orange and black when he was here.

K-Mart said...

I don't remember much of him. I just remember going to games before I really started rooting for the Flyers and everyone chanting his name. I mean, we did get Keith Primeau for him, and I loved Primeau, but look at who's still in the league...

As with the Williams deal... I forgot they traded him for Markov, and I actually really liked Markov, but I would rather have Williams right now.

If we could roll:
Briere/Gagne/Knuble
Carter/Upshall/Prospal
Richards/Williams/Lupul
Thoresen/Umberger/Downie

How sick would that be? I don't see a weakness there.

Jess said...

With Markov and Williams, it could be the same question: is Markov still in the league now? (I honestly don't know.)

I'm glad you included Thoresen because after he put his groin on the line for this team, I'd like for him to stick around!

That's quite an imposing line-up you've got there!

K-Mart said...

That's if everyone stays. I doubt Prospal will be here next year, especially if Gagne is healthy. I wish Kapanen would be there to fill a spot on a line :-( I'm playing NHL 08 on my 360, and my second line is dominating and it's Kaps, Roenick and Upshall. Imma miss him.

Jess said...

I know, it's quite a bummer that Sami is leaving. Even in the throes of my Tampa rebellion, Sami was a Flyer I enjoyed! He was just so tiny and fast!

haha Soph had JR on her NHL '07 team and then the Sharks signed him. Maybe he'll wind up on the Flyers next year since you have him on your '08 team...?

K-Mart said...

He resigned with the Sharks already I believe.

Jess said...

You are correct, sir. You never know the powers of the NHL games, though... ;)