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Sweater Series: Some names you might know

Unlike the last update, there are some pretty popular names in this set of numbers.

Wendel Clark

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 the line at Tim Horton’s during “Roll Up The Rim” days, we figured it would be a good time to bring back the series and walk back down memory lane as we remember some players

Number 17:

Another popular number in Lightning history, fourteen players have worn number “17” on their back although not many have worn it for more than two seasons. It was extremely popular in 1999-2000 where three different players wore it (Ryan Johnson, Brian Holzinger, and Steve Guolla).

No one wore it to greater acclaim than Ruslan Fedotenko. He wore it for four seasons and 313 games and 144 points. He scored 74 regular season goals and 12 postseason goals. All 12 came in the 2004 Stanley Cup including the biggest goal in Lightning history:

When you go a few months without watching the goal, you kind of forget what a great play Vincent Lecavalier made to get him the puck on the second goal. “Oh my goodness” indeed.

While he staked his claim to immortality against the Flames, it was in the prior round, a bruising seven-game series with the Philadelphia Flyers, that he did most of his damage. In the seven contests he had six goals, including the game opening goal in Game 7. He was clutch.

Since we ran this series, one player has worn “17” on his sweater and his name is Alex Killorn. The Harvard grad is pretty similar to Fedotenko as a role-player that can be counted on for 15-17 goals in the regular season and then a boost in production during the playoffs. He goes from a .51 points per game player to a .63 when the second season begins.

Wendal Clark wore this number for the Lightning as well. Never forget Wendal Clark was an all-star for the Lightning. [writer’s note: any time I can include sad Wendal Clark in the “Storm” jersey I will]

Number 18:

Jimmie Olvestad was a unique choice to represent “18” during this series first run. Especially when it’s seen time on the ice with Rob DiMaio, Daymond Langkow, Mike Sillinger and the immortal Zdeno Ciger (a productive 12 points in 27 career games with the Lightning!). Now, I think we can all agree that the name that comes to mind with that number is Ondrej Palat.

Part of the TampaCuse invasion, Palat has quietly moved into 12th all-time in franchise points with a decent chance to make it into the top 10 by the end of the season. He is, by a wide margin, the franchise leader in +/- at +102 (Roman Hamrlik is last at -124). Take that stat as you will, but at a glance it shows that Palat is on the ice for a lot of Lightning even-strength goals.

Much like Anton Stralman, there is no one skill that Palat excels at, he just does everything well, except stay healthy. Beleaguered by a multitude of injuries throughout his career, he’s averaged 70 games per season during his five full seasons with the Bolts. Last season was his toughest as he only appeared in 56 games due to a less-than honorable play from Jared Spurgeon that led to Palat missing 26 games.

The Lightning are always better when he’s in, not because he can add 16-17 goals, but because he is a positive influence defensively on a team where the forwards can be a little too risky for their own good some times. He is a staple on the penalty kill and can fill in on the power play if he is needed.

Number 19:

What a great number in franchise history. If the Lightning feel the need to retire another number to continue to capitalize on nostalgia for the 2004 cup team, it will be the number 19 for Brad Richards. As we pointed out, another pretty good player wore it before Richards donned it.

To this day, it’s the only number to see two different players record 300 points or more while wearing it (Brian Bradley 300 and Brad Richards 489).

Since we feted Bradley with the first post, how about some nice words about Brad Richards. He is the only Conn Smythe winner in franchise history. He also has a Lady Byng trophy on his shelf to fill the space. But what may be more interesting is an award he didn’t win.

As a 20 year old rookie he finished fourth in the Frank Selke voting for best defensive forward. The only players that the Professional Hockey Writers Association through were better in the defensive component of the game were John Madden (the winner), Joe Sakic, and Mike Modano. Pretty exclusive company for someone not able to drink legally in the United States.

Even weirder, he would only receive votes in two more seasons (2006-07 and 2010-11) over the rest of his career. Apparently, the voters thought his defensive excellence slipped a bit or the competition just got a lot stronger.

In the lack of recognition category he also only appeared in one All-Star game (2011) despite putting up almost 1000 points in his 1,126 NHL games. Playing alongside Marty St. Louis and Lecavalier for most of his productive years probably cost him a few appearances.

Fun Brad Richards “fact” - for a long time, there has been a rumor floating around that one of the main reasons the Lightning drafted him was because they their scouting staff was operating on a shoestring budget and didn’t scout many players. Since he put up a lot of points alongside Lecavalier at Rimouski, they decided to take a chance on him.

Since we published the original post, only Cory Conacher has worn the number. He sported it in 2016-17 when Nikita Nesterov had dibs on his usual number “89”.

Number 20:

The number “20”. Worn by 14 different players over the 25 season of Lightning hockey. More so than any other number the players in this group qualify for the question: “He played for the Lightning?”

Tim Wallace, Evgeni Nabokov, Rudy Poeschek and Mikael Renberg all sported “20” during their brief tenures with the Bolts. As per NHL rules, each team must at one point ice a Sutter family member and the Lightning’s representative - Rich Sutter - donned the number for his 4 games in 1994-95.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Sutter was traded to the Lightning from Chicago with future captain Paul Ysebaert for Jim Cummins, Tom Tilley and Jeff Buchanen. The latter two players had never suited up for the Lightning and therefore don’t qualify for this series. Less than a month later, Sutter was traded to Chicago for cold, hard cash. While Sutter didn’t record any points for the Blackhawks during the regular season, the rugged center did chip in a goal and two assists during their run to the conference finals.

No one played better than Vaclav “Vinny” Prospal, who was the principal focus of our previous series. Nabokov and Matt Taormina are the only players to have worn the jersey since the initial series ran. While Taormina was a huge contributor in Syracuse, neither made much of an impact in Tampa.

Number 21:

Cory Sarich was featured in our previous series. He was a solid pick. For those who might not remember, Sarich was a big, physical defenseman who specialized in hitting people. In other words, the antithesis of the modern defender.

A lot of other players have worn it, including one particular player that is currently wearing it. A young, precocious center by the name of Brayden Point. The 22-year-old is now a grizzled, playoff-experienced veteran entering his third year of play for the Lightning and has been a perfect fit for a Jon Cooper-led team.

He fell to the third round due to something he had no control of - his size (he’s small). Also because of something he could control - his skating. He was considered a decent skater, but not great. With the help of Barb Underhill, he’s become one of the better skaters in the league. That is something Lightning fans have grown accustomed to with Point. When faced with a challenge, he finds a way to overcome it. Whether it’s his skating or getting torched by Patrice Bergeron’s line in the first game of their series with the Bruins, Point just finds a way to fix the issue and get better.

His next obstacle will be maintaining his production now that he’s not some unknown kid skating in the shadow of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Teams will focus on shutting him down, he will start seeing better defenders on the ice. Can he take what he’s learned from his previous two seasons in the league and continue to put up points at a top-line rate? His history, however brief it is, suggests yes.

Mike Kostka also wore the number. He has nice hair.

Number 22:

Dino Ciccarelli, when he was wearing clothes, wore number “22” for the Lightning. Clark penned a pretty nice tribute to him during the first go round. While his tough play on the ice made him a favorite of the fans, his beef with Brian Bradley led to the captain referring to him as a “gutless, little puke” and swearing that he would never play with him again. Was that a factor in GM Phil Esposito dealing Ciccarelli to the Panthers a month later? Possibly, but it also seemed like Espo was trying to become the first GM to trade every player on his team that year.

Speaking of the Florida Panthers and disgruntled players, most fans would associate the number “22” with Dan Boyle. A free-wheeling, undersized defender with a knack for scoring goals, the Lightning picked up Boyle from the Panthers in 2002 for a measly 5th round pick (which Florida used to pick up Martin Tuma). Why was a player who had the potential to score 20 goals from the blue line available for such a cheap price?

Mike Keenan.

Prior to the trade Boyle had been scratched nine times in the previous thirteen games. Keenan preferred his defensemen to be big, strong types that muscle around the opposition. That was never Boyle’s game. According to an interview with the Tampa Tribune shortly after his trade Boyle, had been planning on saying something to Panthers’ management^:

”I was frustrated and I had reached the point where I was going to talk to somebody about what was going on,” Boyle said. “I was going to do it in Washington [Monday] and talk to [Florida general manager] Chuck Fletcher but I found out that I was traded at the morning skate.”

Keenan’s inability to accept Boyle’s talents and change his game plan was to the Lightning’s benefit as the defender went on to score 66 goals and record 253 points in 394 games with the Lightning. Granted his departure from the Lightning was just as, if not more acrimonious than the one from Florida. Up until his last day in the NHL, Boyle was a heck of a player and always willing to say what was on his mind.

Since 2014, only Erik Condra has worn the number. While Condra’s tenure in Tampa didn’t turn out the way he or the team wanted it to, he was a valuable leader for the young rookies in Syracuse over the two seasons he played there.

^”BOLTS NOTEBOOK.” Tampa Tribune [Tampa, FL], 9 Jan. 2002,

Poll

Who wore it better?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Brad Richards
    (19 votes)
  • 17%
    Brian Bradley
    (4 votes)
23 votes total Vote Now