On Nov. 7, 2008, forward Steve Downie was shipped out of Philadelphia in a box labeled ‘lost cause.’
The Flyers groomed the 2005 first-round pick for three years, until they simply had enough. He took too many penalties, earned one too many suspensions and appeared as if he would never be able to ride the fence of tactful aggression and being a barbarian.
That was all true, until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who transformed the young but chaotic talent into a player.
“He’s made a conscious effort to do that,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Windsor Star with regards to Downie controlling himself. “We want to reassure to him that he is a good player and his play in the playoffs is showing that. He’s got great hockey sense, he’s got good skills and he sees the ice very well. We want him on the ice, we don’t want him in the penalty box. We try to encourage him to do that and I think he understands that.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning wanted nothing more than to take home a win in Philadelphia for former Flyers and current Lightning forward Simon Gagne.
It’s safe to say Gagne left his old hometown happy.
Pavel Kubina’s goal early in the third period would serve as the game-winner, as Tampa Bay handed Philadelphia it’s first regulation loss of the season, 3-2, Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
When forward Steve Downie was traded to Tampa Bay early last offseason for defenseman Matt Carle, many believed it to be a sign that the Flyers’ organization had finally given up on dealing with his disciplinary issues on and off the ice. But after a year in Tampa Bay, a newly reformed Downie is starting to see the results of a more mature attitude.
“My goal was to be in the best physical shape and the best possible situation for me. I’ve done that,” said Downie, who benefited greatly from a summer conditioning program. “I’m just going to let things take care of itself. It’s not my job to worry about where I’m going to play or what my role is going to be. I’m just here to work on my game and get better. I end up where I end up.”
Shrouded by the after effects of questionable game-changing referee decisions, a simple fact breathes hope for the future of the Flyers in their uphill battle against the top-seeded Canadians: They outplayed Montreal on the road with little to no rest.
Aside from the almost laughable — physics bending — decision to allow Alexei Kovalev’s high stick goal to count, and the kneeless kneeing call on Mike Richards with less than a minute to play, the Flyers skated with, bashed on and proved that flawless supertender Carey Price is by far not impenetrable.