Photo by “Resolute”, via Wikimedia Commons
One of the more remarkable and underreported stories of this season has been Tampa Bay’s continued competitiveness despite the loss of the NHL’s most dangerous sniper. You could hear the wind whoosh out of Lightning fans’ sails when Stamkos went down in November, and for good reason. Martin St. Louis’s Art Ross Trophy aside, Stamkos was the driving force behind the Tampa Bay attack.
Yet, at the time of this post, the Lightning are 3rd in the Eastern Conference, and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. What changed when Stamkos went down? How has Tampa Bay managed to continue competing at such a high level? The short answer: they transformed from a star-driven team to a top-to-bottom threat. It was extraordinary, it was a model of what good management can accomplish, and it can be a lesson to teams in the future.
After the jump, I’ll break down how it happened.