TAMPA, Fla. He has witnessed many firsts, so memories of a Tampa Bay original brought a smile to his face once more.
On Thursday night, Terry Crisp stood deep inside Tampa Bay Times Forum and marked a vision's growth. Twenty years ago, in the 1992-93 season, the Parry Sound, Ontario, native coached the Tampa Bay Lightning during their inaugural campaign.
There were a number of unknowns then: Could hockey survive in Florida? How long would a game of ice last in a state of beach sand and sun? But watching an uncertainty become sustainable, then a contender over time, then a Stanley Cup champion made those early doubts disappear.
"When you first started thinking, 'Oh, Florida, nice. We're a part of it,' you got the feeling, 'Let's enjoy it while we can,'" said Crisp, who coached the Lightning in parts of six seasons from 1992-97.
"It kept dodging the bullet and getting better. Suddenly, you reach the top of the mountain in (the 2003-04 season), and you win a Stanley Cup. I mean,...