Did you know…? Tampa Bay Lightning stars once were extras in a comic book movie?

This past summer I asked friends on Facebook to name a movie that was filmed in their area. Those who responded cited flicks fitting to the region they live in, there was a good variation because…hey! I have friends all over.

One of the respondents was one of my long-time contact who I’ve known specifically by way of our talking Tampa Bay Lightning hockey on forums way back in the past. Her response startled me because of how I’d forgotten the fact:

She cited The Punisher and reminded me how Lightning players had been n set for filming.

For those of you who are into the current Marvel Universe pictures and were fans of the X-Men film. The Punisher was … well, it was lesser. Like Spider-Man (when it was filmed for TV in the late 1970s) or the Fantastic Four (first filmed in 1967), the antics of Frank Castle had been filmed before with lackluster results. Eith where CGI and special effects in cinema were going led to a new take on Marvel characters, with X-Men setting the stage and 2002’s Spider-Man film raising the bar.

I’m getting away from the relevant topic: Lightning players. Comic book movie.

Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards were walk-on cast extras in a club scene shot in downtown Tampa where the bad guy of the film, actor John Travolta, was the center-figure (not quite Vincent Vega becoming Marcellus Wallace)

Memory tells me there had been throw-away coverage of this in newspapers, but the Tampa Tribune is now defunct and the St. Petersburg Tampa Bay Times has junked its available archives.

A site, Comic Book Movies, reposted the full text of the St. Pete Times coverage about Vinny and Brad’s experience.

“Really exciting. A good experience,” Lecavalier said. “It wasn’t a big role. It was just watching (Travolta) on the set. That was the big thing for me. He’s one of my favorite actors.”

From the St. Petersburg Times original article via the Wayback Machine

The event happened 16 years ago — preseason action. Lecavalier and Richards would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season. I don’t know if anyone’s joked about this before but perhaps John Travolta’s handshake was a good-luck jinx? Or… Did it steal the film’s luck at the box office? After all, it was released April 16, 2004 (just in time for the playoffs) with lackluster results (view Boz Office Mojo’s data for more info). It’s final gross in America had the film break even.

In the end, it’s just an anecdote from team history that isn’t cited much but relevant in an entertaining way.

Author note: Ah, memory… This report, though stamped October 1, ran earlier in the year and was reprinted in the Times to coincide the start of the Lightning’s ’03-04 season.

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