BRANDON, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning stepped on the ice together for the first time Monday since they hoisted the Stanley Cup together back in September.
“The first day is not the toughest day, it’s a fun day,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “You’re seeing all the guys mostly for the first time. But, there is so much hype that goes into the first day, guys are excited to be out there. They’re screaming around so we design a practice to take care of that.”
Steven Stamkos looks healthy again as the Bolts took the ice at the TGH Ice Plex for their first practice of training camp.
The team captain was a full participant after having multiple surgeries at the end of last season. A core muscle injury sidelined him for the final seven games of the regular season and the subsequent compensatory injury derailed his plans to return for the playoffs.
Tampa Bay need a healthy Stamkos with Nikita Kucherov, the team’s leading scorer, out for the entire regular season after having hip surgery.
“Stammer is one of those guys, we’ve been together for a long time, but he hasn’t gotten the reps we all got when we were in the bubble,” Cooper said. “If you were just watching, the puck was going in the net for him quite a bit today. That’s definitely a good sign.”
With the team’s core group mostly intact, the Lightning’s motivation is to become back-to-back Stanley Cup champs.
“It’s difficult in the sense you’ve reached your ultimate goal that’s something you’ve been working your entire life,” forward Alex Killorn said. “Once you reach it, some guys want to take a step back. The way I look at it, I know a lot of guys that have won the cup, I don’t know many that have won two. Why not be one of those guys? We have one in our dressing room, when (Pat Maroon) walks around, everyone knows his as the two-cup guy.”
The Lightning will hold training camp at the TGH Ice Plex until Saturday when they move to Amalie Arena.
The season opener is January 13 against the Chicago Blackhawks.