June 23rd, 2024

Roest captures another Cup


By Dale Woodard on July 15, 2021.

Stacy Roest and the Tampa Bay Lightning are the newly-crowned Stanley Cup champions.

Again.

But shortly after capturing hockey’s Holy Grail against the Montreal Canadiens with a thrilling 1-0 win in Game 5 last Wednesday, the downtime will be minimal.

The native of Lethbridge who wears two hats in the Tampa organization as the assistant general manger of the Lighting as well as the GM of Tampa’s American Hockey League Syracuse Crunch farm team goes right back into game mode as he and his employers prepare for the upcoming expansion draft and the NHL draft.

Still, back home in Vernon, B.C. there was time to reflect on the Lightning’s second straight Stanley Cup.

“When you win the first round, the second round and the third round and then you get to the final, now you’re getting down to it and knowing that you’re four wins away,” said Roest, who played 244 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild from 1998 to 2003. “Winning the fourth game is always the hardest. One-nothing in the final game, (Andrei) Vasilevskiy was awesome. The whole playoffs, he’s the best goalie in the world. But just a commitment from our team. In years past, we might not have been able to win that game 1-0. We learned as a team and as a staff that defence wins championships and I think we’ve proven that the last couple of years. It’s been fun to watch the group grow as a team and as an organization.”

Nonetheless, the hard work that goes into a Stanley Cup title has warranted a breather of sorts.

“Once we won, we hung around for a couple of days and then we came back,” said Roest. “I’m going to be here (Vernon) for a little bit and then I have to go back for the draft and free agency.”

The expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken takes place July 21, followed by the NHL draft July 23-24 and the free agency feeding frenzy that will come with it.

“It never stops and now we’re back in planning the draft and the expansion draft,” said Roest. “Once the draft is over and free agency after July 28, it’s usually hectic for a couple of days and then it should slow down and I should get a couple weeks off before the second week of September and training camp starts.”

After winning the Cup last year in the protected — and fanless — bubble in Edmonton, the past season saw the NHL move out of the COVID-19 shadow with fans eventually back in the seats as well as normal travel.

That still presented challenges, said Roest.

“You’re traveling from city to city, there’s quarantine everywhere you go and testing every day. The commitment from the team, the management, the staff and the league was unbelievable, the way they made it all work and everything ran together.”

But as the playoffs rolled on, American arenas filled up.

That included the Lightning’s Amalie Arena.

“It was great, the whole downtown of Tampa, the rink and the hotels around there and the atmosphere, the outdoor parties and the watch parties when we were on the road,” said Roest. “Just the whole atmosphere around you, walking to the game at 5 p.m. and there are people already gathering and getting together to get in front of the big screen outside if you’re not inside. It was one of the best tickets in sports.”

Roest joined the Lightning in the second round of their playoff run.

“When I was there I said ‘Wow this is crazy,'” he said. “You kind of forget what the atmosphere is like. I watched a lot of Syracuse games last year and there were no fans all year. So you go and watch a game and you think that’s kind of the mentality and that’s the atmosphere.

“But as it went on and we went to Carolina it was an unreal atmosphere. The Islanders at the old Nassau Coliseum was fantastic. Game 7 in Tampa when we beat the Islanders was, to me, the loudest game. It was crazy. We talk about Nassau being loud, and it was, it’s a smaller building, but the atmosphere in (our) rink was just nuts.

“I was talking to the coaches afterwards and you couldn’t hear each other on the bench.”

The Lightning rewarded that enthusiasm with their second Cup title in as many years.

“To see the joy on the fans faces when we won, they stuck around there for hours afterwards cheering and applauding the team,” said Roest. “It was a great environment.”

The past season wraps up Roest’s 10th season with the Lightning and his second as assistant general manager for the Lighting and manager of the Crunch.

“Before that I was the Director of Player Development,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch, working with (Nikita) Kucherov and Vasilevskiy over the years and watching them, it has been quite a ride.”

Roest said the pandemic of the past year has made his job challenging with constant testing and dealing the team’s taxi squad and callus.

“It’s been a big challenge, but it’s fantastic,” he said. “Every day you were learning. Every day you were on the phone, you’re watching games, you’re making calls, you’re on the Internet, you’re learning the salary cap and you’re learning the transactions and how to make your team better and watching hockey and talking to hockey people every day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to many as many games this year as I normally do because of COVID. But it’s been a dream come true.”

Back in his hometown, Roest’s family and friends have reached out celebrate another Stanley Cup title.

“It’s pretty emotional,” he said. “The time you spend away from your family and the commitment you make to the organization and the team, everybody is so understanding. You win the Stanley Cup, the biggest trophy in hockey and you see the support it gets you pretty emotional and you were obviously very proud. You do it for yourself, but you also do it for your friends and your family and hopefully one day we can all celebrate it together.”

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