(Authors note: This one was penned under a degree of physical distress and doesn't do Paul Ysebaert or the Sweater Series justice...)
General manager Phil Esposito didn't believe in team captains any more. At one point in his career in the game of hockey - as a player, as a coach, or as a GM - he lost faith in the role, I don't know, but Phil didn't believe in team captains any more by the time he was running the Tampa Bay Lightning, and so the first four seasons of their existence, they went without.
Head coach Terry Crisp changed all that in 1996 as he named #15, center Paul Ysebaert, the franchise's first captain.
Ysebaert joined the Lightning in 1994-95. He had previously spent time with the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. While Ysebaert's career in Tampa Bay spanned 5 seasons, he only played a total of 215 games with the Bolts and served as captain for only one full season (1996-97). In fact, one full season is a distinction that Ysebaert achieved with the Lighting: Of his 13 season playing career in the NHL, he only played a full 82-game season once; in 1997-98 (he scored 13 goals and 27 assists that season).
(Other players to wear #15: Keith Osborne, Pat Elynuik, Jim Cummins, Jaroslav Svejkovsky, Nikita Alexeev, Brian Lee)