TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper has made a concerted effort to motivate his players by reminding them what the history books will say about them. Winning the Stanley Cup once is an incredible feat in itself, but it’s not unique. But winning back-to-back titles– both through a pandemic– that is really something special.
Admittedly, Cooper said he’s been using the word ‘special’ a lot.
Repeating as Stanley Cup Champions would be special and that would make this team special. He’s gone on about how his goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, is special. Nikita Kucherov, also special. The list could go on. Because this Lightning team is on the cusp of something great.
For the players who were fortunate enough to be on last year’s championship squad, the biggest motivator to battle at all costs is remembering how sweet that feeling was in the fall.
“I think we just used that experience that we had last year, in terms of fulfilling your ultimate dream of winning the Stanley Cup, and realizing how amazing that feeling is and knowing how hard it was to accomplish that,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. “That was kind of one of the first thoughts for a lot of the guys was, when we had the cup, when we were with the cup and spending time with the cup. It was like, we can’t wait to do this again because it’s so amazing. That’s just kind of been the mindset all season long. It’s a lot easier said than done but we’ve put ourselves in a position to do that now. It’s quite an accomplishment but it’s certainly not over yet. We want to go out there and finish the job. I think that was kind of the mindset was, it was so special and so fun to do that with this group that immediately when you win it, one of your first thoughts is let’s do it again.”
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman echoed those sentiments.
“What we experienced last year was something that you want to experience again,” Hedman said. “This group is super special… It was a tough season playing against the same teams over and over again. But the closer we got to the playoffs, it felt like our game really came together.”
Now only four wins over the Montreal Canadiens stand in their way from winning back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.