All right, I know a significant chunk of you might have expected another guy to occupy this space and are fairly annoyed that he's not here. Listen, I like Chris McAlpine as much as anyone but... Oh wait, you guys were expecting yet another guy, defenseman Dan Boyle. That's a reasonable expectation. Dan generated a lot of love over an extended period of time with the Lightning and his contributions to the team, especially during the fabled Cup run of '04, can not be overstated. The fact that he was signed to a big contract and then kind of unceremoniously dumped as a result of that contract during The Dark Times left a bad taste in people's mouths. Dan Boyle was a great player for the Lightning. But so was Dino Ciccarelli.
It's easy to divide Lightning history into chapters based on who the owners were at the time. It's even easier at this point in time to carve it into two halves (roughly), pre-Cup and post-Cup. Pre-Cup, it was necessary for the Lightning (regardless of who owned them at the time) to devote considerable resources to establishing legitimacy, proving that they belonged in the NHL as a hockey team and not some sort of misplaced novelty act. A big part of that was hosting the NHL All-Star Game and accompanying activities during the 1998-99 season. Along those same lines was getting Lightning players into the yearly festivities. Ciccarelli was the third player to represent Tampa Bay in that regard, selected to the Eastern Conference team for the game that was held in San Jose. He followed Brian Bradley (twice) and Roman Hamrlik, but was arguably the first "big name" player to do so for the Lightning. His tenure in Tampa Bay, although relatively brief, was one of a few bright spots in the pre-Cup era.
Ciccarelli came to Tampa Bay late in his 19-year career and admittedly his best seasons were spent with the Minnesota North Stars, Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings prior to his brief stint with the Lightning. Still, in 1996-97, a season in which he turned 37, he netted 35 goals and 25 assists for the Bolts, many of his points earned by planting himself in front of the net. He wasn't afraid of rough stuff either, racking up 116 penalty minutes that season. These factors combined to make him a fan favorite on a team that went 32-40-10, finishing 6th in the conference's Atlantic Division. Sadly, things were even worse the next season (17-55-10), during which Ciccarelli was shipped to the Florida Panthers after playing 34 games. He retired after the 1998-99 season.
Over the course of his NHL career, he played in 1232 games, scored 608 goals and 592 assists for a nice, even total of 1200 points. He never won a Stanley Cup but appeared in the playoffs 14 times and was named to four all-star teams. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, becoming only the second player (after Denis Savard) to have played for the Lightning to be so honored. Today, he is the proprietor of Ciccarelli's 22, a chain of sports bars in the Detroit area.