One and Done is a (hopefully) reoccurring series exploring the players who had the quickest of cups of coffee with the team. The players that played in one game, and one game only, for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
On November 8th, 2005 Brian Eklund strapped on the goalie pads and took the ice at the Bell Centre in Montreal tasked with stopping a three-game losing streak for the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. He had been called up to the team about a week earlier when veteran backup Sean Burke was sidelined with a back injury.
Despite the fact that he was making his NHL debut, he had already earned something that most players in the league covet – a Stanley Cup ring. He played well against the Canadiens, making 19 saves. Unfortunately it wasn't enough as he was outdueled by Jose Theodore who made 32 saves in the 3-2 win for Montreal. It was a penalty filled game as Montreal had seven power plays, scoring on two while the Lightning were shut out on all eight of theirs. He would be reassigned to Springfield the next day.
The team would lose a couple of more before righting the ship and struggling their way into the playoffs. John Graham was the starter for most of it as he tried to fill the shoes of the departed Nikolai Khabibulin. Brad Richards led the offense with 91 points and despite having 5 players score 20 or more goals (remember the post lockout offensive bump?) the Lightning were bounced in the quarterfinals by Ottawa.
Eklund was the 7th round selection for the Lightning in the 2000 draft (also drafted in the 7th round – Henrik Lundqvist!) out of Brown University. He spent two more years at Brown before being assigned to Pensacola of the ECHL. The next few seasons were split between Pensacola and Springfield as he battled other goaltending prospects such as Zac Bierk and Evgeny Konstantinov.
In 2003-04 he decided to play in ALL the games for the Ice Pilots as he appeared in 62 games. That's quite impressive. Impressive enough that he was named part of the Black Aces squad for the Lightning that year. Which was a pretty good year to help out at practices as the team won the Stanley Cup. While he didn't get his name engraved on the Cup, he did receive one of the nice diamond rings that the team handed out. Not a bad consolation prize.
That would be the best season he would have in professional hockey. He was passed on the depth chart by Konstantinov and Gerald Coleman and despite getting his NHL call up, saw his playing time in the AHL diminish. Not only would he never taste the action in the big leagues again, he would be out of hockey following that season.
Currently it appears that he is coaching youth hockey and running a goaltending school in Massachusetts.
Are there any hockey cards featuring Eklund in a Lightning uniform?
Do I own any of them?