BRANDON (FOX 13) - Summer vacation is over and the Bolts are back on the ice ahead of training camp. But that doesn't mean the boys have taken the summer off.
"You know those days when guys show up to training camp to get into shape in training camp are over," said Ryan Callahan. "We spend the entire summer training and getting ready."
That voluntary work gives the newest Lightning additions extra time to bond with their new teammates. Both free agent signees Chris Kunitz and Dan Girardi are among some of the earliest arrivals.
"Just trying to become familiar with everybody," said Kuntiz. "The way the team is organized. The way things are run. So you just try to get here early enough and familiarize with everything."
Dan Girardi has been in Tampa for just two weeks arriving in time to get his kids in school. Coming from the New York Rangers, he was a little surprised to be recognized by fans already.
"I saw some guy in Ikea yesterday. He said he moved down here. He said we are still going to root for the Rangers, but we love you. I'm like well I can't say the same," Girardi said.
He hasn't taken very long for former Pittsburgh Penguin star Chris Kunitz to learn why Tampa is a Hockeytown.
"People come to hockey because they enjoy hockey, but it's also an environment that Mr. Vinik [Lightning Owner] has created for people to come here, enjoy themselves and learn about the game. You don't have to be a diehard fan. It's kind of the thing to do in town."
Nikita Kucherov was the first player to begin work in Brandon, arriving two months ago. Ryan Callahan wasn't far behind. Missing out on the playoffs left the Lightning a long offseason and longing for redemption.
"Obviously, we were disappointed with the way we finished and where we ended up," said Callahan, who missed 64 of 82 games due to injury. "Guys are hungry."