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Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning joined the NHL in 1992, along with the Ottawa Senators, and became the first NHL team in the state of Florida. From 1993 to 1995 the Lightning did not qualify for the playoffs; but, in 1996 they were able to grab the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference to face the Philadelphia Flyers who eventually eliminated the Bolts in 6 games. A 6 year drought would ensue before they reached the playoffs again in 2003, beating the Washington Capitals in the 1st round before dropping in 5 games to the New Jersey Devils.

With the 1st overall draft choice, in 1998, the Lightning selected Vincent Lecavalier, who eventually became the youngest captain in NHL history, although Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche now holds this record. Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis would lead the Lightning to a Stanley Cup Championship in a legendary 7 game series against the Calgary Flames in 2004, the last season played prior to the 2004-05 NHL lockout. The victory brought hockey in Tampa to center stage and helped the Lightning secure a much more devoted fan base than they had known in previous years.

The Lightning have drafted incredibly well in recent years, picking up star forward Steven Stamkos and towering defenseman Victor Hedman. The Bolts are regaining their strength and will soon be battling for control of the Atlantic Division.