Many, many, many years ago (four) Raw Charge started a series to help pass the time through the dog days of summer. With news about hockey and our beloved Lightning coming out slower than Hal Gill skating up the ice, we figured it would be a good time to bring back the series and walk back down memory lane as we remember some players.
Our recap of the lower numbers continue as we roll through some numbers traditionally reserved for defensemen.
This is the most used number in Lightning history. Sixteen players have donned the number “6” and until recently it’s been quite a revolving door. When this series first ran, Kurtis Foster had the honor of being highlighted more so because of his ability to shatter more glass than Marty Jannetty’s forehead than of any lasting impact on the franchise. Still he was a better choice than Josef Melichar, Jeff Norton, Karel Betik or Sasha Goc.
Luckily, the current number holder has elevated it to a new level. Steady defenseman and adorable bunny owner Anton Stralman has worn that number since signing with the Lightning in 2015. The former Toronto Maple Leaf has found a home in Tampa, appearing in over 300 games, recording 113 points and never once panicking during the 7,298 minutes he’s been on the ice.
Stralman isn’t flashy. He doesn’t wow fans with outstanding goals (well sometimes he does) and he doesn’t race up and down the ice. What he does do well is everything. He’s seemingly always in the right place, knows when to chip a puck out or fire it down the ice and is the perfect compliment to his defensive partner beit his countryman Victor Hedman, rookie Mikhail Sergachev or players of lesser talent. Despite his mild-mannered play, woe be it to any skater who crosses the ice in front of Stralman with their head down.
No additions since this list last run. Rob Zamuner remains the iconic number “7” for the Lightning. Radko Gudas, the last to wear it, could have become a folk hero in Tampa but was used as trade bait to bring Braydon Coburn to the Lightning. That could change if Mathieu Joseph makes an appearance this season.
Another number that is biding its time. Worn by hall of famer Mark Recchi during his brief journey to the Tampa area, it’s also stretched across the back of a young Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Barberio. The first player to wear it in Lightning history? Herb Raglan for two games in 1992-93. He didn’t record a point during his tenure with the Lightning but he did pick up a slashing penalty in his Tampa debut against the Maple Leafs. That game was a 4-1 loss that featured future Lightning legend Dave Andreychuk recording a goal and an assist.
Raglan was acquired in February of 1993 from Quebec in exchange for Steve Tuttle, Martin Simard and Michel Mongeau. While Raglan, whose father “Rags” Raglan also played in the NHL, only appeared in 2 games with the Lightning, he did have a total of 343 appearances in the league, mostly with the St. Louis Blues. Following a 29-game season with the Ottawa Senators in 1993-94, he finished his career in the minors. He had one memorable season with the Brantford Smoke of the Colonial Hockey League.
In 1995-96 he appeared in 69 games and put up 46 goals, 38 assists and 267 penalty minutes. His 84 points was good for fourth on the Smoke as Paul Polillo had 186, Joe Hawley had 97 and Wayne Muir had 87. The team had 11 players with more than 100 penalty minutes (Bruce Ramsey of the Thunder Bay Senators led the league with a nice, even 400 PIMS). Apparently all anyone did in that league was fight and score goals.
The last time this series rolled around Brian Holzinger was featured. No disrespect to one of the fastest players to ever sport the Lightning bolt on his chest, but this number, one of the most famous in hockey, is now property of Tyler Johnson.
The ringleader of the TampaCuse invasion, Johnson does nothing but win wherever he plays. Despite his perceived shortcomings [sorry boss I couldn’t resist] he has settled into a reliable NHL point producer. When he’s healthy, he’s giving you 50 points a year and notching around 20 goals. On a team that has an abundance of centers, he moved over to wing and clicked with Brayden Point. He wins about half of his face-offs and starts his shifts evenly in the offensive and defensive zones. He is a Jon Cooper guy. Oh and he’s pretty damn good in the postseason.
Due to his current contract, he is also the guy included in every single trade rumor that requires shaving the salary cap.
Three players have worn this sweater number since we last delved into the topic and chose Sean Bergenheim as its representative. Brenden Morrow had it for a year. Then Syracuse Crunch favorite Mike Angelidis donned it for his four game stint in 2015-16. It went unworn until The Big Trade happened last season and J.T. Miller had his name sewn on the back.
It should remain his for at least another few years as he signed a five-year contract this off-season. If he performs like he did over the final few months of the regular season (18 points in 19 games), then he may dethrone Bergenheim as king of the number.
In the meantime, an argument could be made that the most influential player to wear “10” for the Lightning would be Gary Roberts. Despite having it for only 30 games and 4 goals, if Roberts wasn’t on the bench next to a very, very young Steven Stamkos in the 2008-09 season things, might have turned out different for soon-to-be Lightning goals leader.
Chris Dingman raised the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and is an entertaining part of their television broadcast crew. He did well representing number “11”. He is, however, no Brian Boyle. The only player to wear the number since the initial Sweater Series run, Boyle remains, to this day, one of the most popular players to put on a Tampa jersey. That’s quite an impressive feat for a player that maxes out as a third-line grinder.
Signed to a three-year $6 million deal on the same day that Anton Stralman came aboard, Boyle scored 41 goals during his Lightning tenure. His departure wasn’t ideal as he was shipped off to Toronto for Byron Froese and a second round draft pick (Alex Volkov was selected with the pick) during the salary cap purge of 2017. It was a bittersweet day for Lightning fans as they mourned the departure of the big center from Massachusetts who had endeared himself to fans with his quiet leadership, steady play and surprisingly soft hands.
Oh and he did this. In the playoffs. In Joe Louis Arena.