It should have been an occasion for the Tampa Bay Lightning to bask one more time in the glow of winning the Stanley Cup.

Instead, the first-time champions received their diamond-laden rings Tuesday in Tampa in a private ceremony the team received permission for despite the NHL lockout threatening to wipe out the season.

"It was quiet and very low-key," Jay Preble, the team's director of public relations, said yesterday.

Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Nikolai Khabibulin -- who have signed with European teams -- were not among the 15 players at the St. Pete Times Forum for the presentation by Lightning President Ron Campbell, General Manager Jay Feaster and Coach John Tortorella.

The rings feature 138 diamonds -- one for each of the 106 points the Lightning earned in the regular season and two each for 16 victories during the playoffs. The Stanley Cup is depicted in blue diamonds.

Afterward, the players walked across the street to a hotel for lunch -- without coaches or team officials.

"This should have been at the Forum in front of 22,000 people as we walk up and get the rings. . . . and show the fans," center Tim Taylor told the St. Petersburg Times. "I personally feel the NHL has taken some of that away from us."

-- From News Services