- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

The two men are good friends. They are roommates on the road and have been around hockey all their lives. But the subject of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs is something that never comes up. Perhaps that is why they remain good friends.

Ben Clymer was a forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat forward Chris Clark and the Calgary Flames in seven games to win the Cup. That’s a memory that never goes away.

Friday night, the two returned to St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., this time as members of the Washington Capitals. It was the first time both had been inside the building since the 2004 series.

Banners hang from light poles throughout the city with pictures of bearded Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk holding the Cup aloft under the simple and apt phrase, “Defend It.” There are more banners inside the building and souvenirs of every description for sale, constant reminders of what happened the last time the NHL played.

Yet the two men do not mention it.

“I haven’t said a word,” Clymer said yesterday. “To play that hard for that long and to come away just one game short, that’s a heartbreaker. It was a battle out there. Both teams really wanted to win. I was just fortunate enough to be on the winning team.

“In some ways I feel real bad for him, but do I feel bad enough for me to give him my Stanley Cup ring? By no means.”

Clark doesn’t mention it either.

“No, it hasn’t come up,” he said slowly, painfully aware of the direction of the conversation. “And we’re roommates, too. We just don’t talk about it. He’s let it go, maybe because we’re both on a new team now. We’re together here, trying to win in Washington.”

Clark is from South Windsor, Conn., and wears a Boston Red Sox hat around the dressing room without embarrassment. Clymer is from Bloomington, Minn., the Minneapolis suburb that once was home to the Met Center (now the Mall of America) and the North Stars (now Dallas Stars).

Clark, however, admits to wondering every now and then what might have happened if a puck had bounced Calgary’s way during that series.

“Yeah, I do, especially when I see like the Cubs winning the World Series or …”

The who?

“Oh, yeah, the White Sox, watching them celebrate and watching the Super Bowl last year, stuff like that.”

Clark said there was not much incentive Friday night other than playing a Southeast Division opponent.

“I got the revenge factor out of the way with that game at the MCI Center,” he said, referring to a 3-2 shootout Caps victory Oct.16.

Clymer admitted he was a little nervous returning to his old building for the first time but took something positive away from a 4-2 loss that could have gone the other way.

“I thought we could have [won], especially with our quick start,” he said. “But they’re a good team. There’s some things that can be learned out of that game that could benefit us. That’s what we have to learn — to be more like them — and we’ll be stealing games in the third period.”

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