Dan Girardi has already been designated the Tampa Bay Lightning fans’ new whipping boy. It used to be Matt Carle. Then it shifted to Andrej Sustr after Carle was bought out. Now, Sustr is getting a bit of a reprieve because of the addition of Dan Girardi. Internet banter is already out there about how much (or how little) he’ll score this year, and it’s true that he is an offensively limited defenseman. But I have a feeling he won’t be breaking any lack-of-scoring records this year for the Lightning.
For these records, a player must have played at least 70 games in a season. That’s just about 85% of the season. It gives a little cushion for players that had some minor injuries along the way or were scratched here and there. It’s also plenty of games so that it’s not just be a small sample size of bad play, but truly represents a year of ineptitude.
The record holder for the Lightning’s lack of scoring is center Zenon Konopka in 2009-10. However, he is tied with two defensemen, Mattias Ohlund and Stan Neckar. Zonopka wins the tiebreaker because he played more games in his season of offensive ineptitude.
Konopka is an interesting player. He played in the OHL, where he was a point per game or better in his last two seasons with the Ottawa 67’s. He started out in the ECHL in his first two years where he put up over a point per game before making it to the AHL full time in his second year as a pro. He built up his game in the AHL and made his NHL debut with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2005-06, following the lockout with 23 games. Over the next several years, he continued to be a very, very good AHL player while getting a handful of games in the NHL here and there.
2009-10 was Zonopka’s first full season in the NHL, playing 74 games for the Lightning. Up to that point, he had only played 39 games in the NHL, with his 23 games for the Mighty Ducks being his career high. In 74 games, he put up a grand total of two goals, three assists, and five points. Oh, and 265 penalty minutes.
Despite his AHL scoring prowess (269 points in 350 games), Zonopka never found that touch in the NHL. He finished his NHL career though with 346 games played, 30 points, and 1,082 penalty minutes.
The Other Guys
Mattias Ohlund and Stan Neckar are the other two players that have had a season of five points in 70 or more games played for the Lightning. Neckar’s record came in 2002-03 with a goal and four assists. Ohlund’s came in 2010-11 on five assists.
Unlike Zonopka, Neckar never had a chance to show he was a great minor league scorer, and that makes sense since he was a defenseman. In fact, he only spent 15 games in the IHL. Otherwise, his entire North American career was spent in the NHL. His best season came in 1995-96 with the Ottawa Senators when he scored 12 points. He hit double digit points in a season only one other time, in 1999-00 with the Phoenix Coyotes. Neckar spent parts of four seasons with the Lightning. His last two NHL games came for the Lightning in 2003-04 playoffs when he played two games in the Philadelphia Flyers series. However, he would not get his name on the Stanley Cup.
Ohlund came to the Lightning after spending 11 seasons in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks. He was made an alternate captain and was expected to be a mentor to young Victor Hedman, who was drafted that summer before the 2009-10 season. Ohlund had been a pretty good scorer for the Canucks. His career low in points had been 20 points in a season where he only played 42 games. He had double digit goals in four seasons. He hit the 30 point plateau in six seasons.
The Lightning thought they were getting a defenseman that could provide some offense as well as that veteran presence for Hedman. Instead, they got a player whose knee was starting to ail him and who had lost his offensive game. In Ohlund’s first season, he played 67 games and recorded 13 assists and no goals. In his second season, he recorded no goals and five assists in 72 games to get his share of the record. In the playoffs, Ohlund got his only goal as a member of the Lightning, and three points in 18 games.
Unfortunately, Ohlund’s knee would never get better and he would spend the next five seasons on Long Term Injured Reserve before his contract ended and he could officially retire from professional hockey.
The Combined Stats
In the entirety of the Lightning’s history, only 19 players have played at least 70 games and scored less than 10 points. 13 of them have been defensemen. Only three have played at least 80 games with those point totals. Two of those 19 players had such a season in 2003-04 when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup: Jassen Cullimore and Chris Dingman. The most recent players to fall into this category were Jason Garrison in 2016-17 with nine points in 70 games played, and Brenden Morrow in 2014-15 with eight points in 70 games played.