One of my favorite ways to remember a historical event of the Tampa Bay Lightning is to save the newspaper from the morning after. That all started back in 2004, after the Lightning eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers and won the Eastern Conference en route to their first Stanley Cup appearance. It was only by chance though, that I ended up getting my hands on and then keeping these historic headlines.
My parents always got the newspaper on Sundays to clip coupons, and the Lightning won the Conference Finals on Saturday. I was drawn to all the color photos of the games, being that they were some of the first hockey games I ever watched. After that, when the Cup was won, I asked my parents that night to get both local papers the next morning, so I’d be able to look through all the Stanley Cup Championship coverage.
As I grew up, I just kept on getting the paper and saving things I liked and wanted to remember, even though newspapers, as a whole, are slowly dying off in this age of instant information through the internet. To me, nothing beats having a physical copy of the paper, especially when something special has happened with the Lightning.
One thing I did do with them as a kid that I regret, was hanging them on the wall using poster putty, because I wanted to display the pictures of the championship. That sped up the yellowing process a ton, and ruined some of the corners of them. It’s the newspaper equivalent of kids playing with and enjoying their sports cards in the moment or putting cards in bicycle spokes.
Even though that did affect the condition, they are still in decent shape for what they’ve been through in their early years in the immediate aftermath of the championship. Today I do a better job keeping them in good condition, using newspaper sleeves and storing them in a drawer to keep the light away.
I saved front pages from both the St. Petersburg Times (now known as Tampa Bay Times) and the Tampa Tribune. The Times featured a special championship cover, as well as a regular front page displaying the news of Stanley coming to Tampa Bay.
In addition, I kept the front page of the special “Quest for the Cup” extra section, which is one of my favorite parts of the coverage, since it is filled with great color photos of the cup clinching game 7, articles about the Champions, and also featured a profile of Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards.
The Lightning victory also graced the cover of the Tribune, and they published a Stanley Cup extra section as well. I saved the front page and one of the inside pages of the special section that was, much like the Times’ Cup extra, filled with game pictures that drew me in as a kid.
Whenever I look back at these newspapers, it makes me feel like the Stanley Cup victory happened yesterday. To me, the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship was the greatest moment in Lightning history and I’m really glad that nine year old me was intrigued enough to save the newspaper when it happened. ■
About the Author: Zach Bare is a hockey fan from Tampa who enjoys collecting cards and autographs among other hockey related items. The Tampa Bay Lightning is his favorite team, but if it’s hockey, he’ll watch it no matter who is playing.