December 14, 2011
Tanguay recalls terrible time in Tampa
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
TAMPA - In some ways, Alex Tanguay would prefer to simply forget the year he spent with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
At the same time, the Calgary Flames left winger believes he now is better off for all the turmoil he experienced during a disappointing and tumultuous 2009-10 NHL season with the Lightning.
The biggest lesson was how much he loved hockey and appreciated being able to play. That’s big considering there were times in that season — while collecting 10 goals and 37 points in 80 games — he felt like packing it in.
“Parts through the season, I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing,” said Tanguay as he prepares to return for Thursday’s Flames-Lightning clash Thursday night in Tampa (5:30 p.m., Sportsnet Flames). “I really thought this might be it. I really wasn’t having any fun. Over the summer, I realized how much I liked hockey, and last year, that was my goal — just to go back and enjoy myself — do what I’ve done as a kid and go out with a smile on my face.
“It came to a point it was hard to go to the rink, but now I’m having fun.”
It’s amazing to think the same Tanguay who asked to be traded from the Flames after his second season in Calgary was rejuvenated by a return.
Then again, a painfully disappointing season with a Lightning team which finished outside the playoffs, it served some good.
“It was a great learning experience for me, I wish I didn’t have to go through it, but it’s part of the process of being older and wiser,” said Tanguay, 32. “If I had known that 10 years ago, it certainly wouldn’t have happened.”
Now, for the first time, he’s returning to the Florida city to face his old team.
However, Tanguay — who has five goals and 19 points in 29 games this season for the Flames — isn’t feeling it’s a meaningful return.
“It’s a completely different organization from when I was there,” Tanguay said. “Obviously, I had a hard time there — I didn’t play overly good. It was a tough year, but no thoughts about it. After the first few shifts, I’ll be fine.
“I wish I would have played better (for the Lightning), but I couldn’t do anything about it now.”
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak