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On December 20, 1991, the Tampa Bay Lightning were granted permanent status as members of the National Hockey League, with Lightning Partners Inc., owned by the Japanese corporation Kokusai Green Co. Ltd., becoming the general partner. The Lightning became the first North American major professional franchise to have a majority interest held by an individual or company outside North America.

On September 12, 1992 the Lightning opened their first training camp as 72 hopefuls gathered on the ice of the Lakeland Civic Center hoping to catch the eye of General Manager Phil Esposito or Head Coach Terry Crisp. Among the players in attendance were noteworthy NHLers such as Rob Ramage, Marc Bergevin, Doug Crossman and Adam Creighton as well as hopefuls like Kevin MacKay, Rich Braccia and Daniel Shank. Throughout the years Tampa Bay has been the home to standout players such as Daren Puppa, Darcy Tucker, Brian Bradley, Chris Gratton, John Tucker and, most recently, Vincent Lecavalier and Nikolai Khabibulin.

The Lightning missed the playoffs for six straight seasons before making them last season, when Stanley Cup champion New Jersey eliminated them in the conference semifinals.


The Tampa Bay Lightning became one of the most unlikely Stanley Cup winners ever and kept the Calgary Flames from an even more improbable championship.How they did it was no surprise at all.Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice, including the critical first goal just as he did in the conference finals, and the resilient Lightning held off the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7 Monday night to win their first Stanley Cup.The Lightning did it with a very reliable formula in so big a game: Getting exceptional efforts from their best players and a big night from their goalie.

The NHL canceled what was left of its decimated schedule Wednesday after a round of last-gasp negotiations failed to resolve differences over a salary cap -- the flash-point issue that led to a lockout.It's the first time a major pro sports league in North America lost an entire season to a labor dispute. The resulting damage could be immeasurable to hockey, which already has limited appeal in the United States.

In 2006 the Lightning fell in their first playoff series since becoming Stanley Cup champions in 2004.Tampa Bay battled back once again as Richards scored his third goal in four games with 1:45 left in the second to make it a one-goal game again.Emery stopped Vincent Lecavalier's backhander from the faceoff circle on a break down the right side 8:26 into the third,and the Lightning fell to the Senators 4-1.