Now that 91 Days of Stamkos is done, we can move on to important topics. Like the #1 Lightning player. That is, the first Lightning player to wear #1. So I guess that kind of makes him #1, right? Well, it turns out that player was Wendell Young. And guess what? Not only was he the first Lightning player to wear #1, he was also the goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s NHL debut. Remember that game that set a franchise record for goals scored in a game by a player? That game that was in the tiny fairgrounds arena? Yeah. That game.
Not to be confused with Wendel Clark. There’s definitely a difference between those two players. See, Wendel Clark was a first overall draft pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs. We did play Wendel Clark $14 million to play for one season though apparently. That just seems insane. We couldn’t even hang on to him for a full year though and got Kevin Hodson and a 4th rounder we used on Sheldon Keefe for our money though.
But enough of that. We’re here to talk about the important things of Wendell Young and his time with the Lightning. It was short, but kind of memorable. Young was originally selected in the fourth round by the Vancouver Canucks in 1981. He got shuffled around in the late 80s before landing with the Lightning in the expansion draft.
As you’d expect from the expansion draft, the Lightning acquired an elite goaltender to help guide them through their early days. Just check out this amazing move in the Lightning’s first game in the NHL.
Ah, Wendell. We’ll always love thee. At least he got the win in that first game right? Thanks Chris Kontos!
Young played in 39 games in the first season and then 9 games in the Lightning’s second winning 9 games overall. Then he got shipped off to the Pittsburgh Penguins for peanuts. Maybe not literally but it was a trade for “future considerations” which might as well be “Hey, I’ll buy you a drink next time you’re in town.” He played 10 games for the Penguins and then spent the rest of his career in exile... I mean the IHL minor league.
Eventually he found work with the Calgary Flames as a goaltending coach then with his long time IHL, now AHL, team that Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach. He moved into the front office though and has spent the past eight seasons as the Wolves’ General Manager.