It’s the offseason. There’s spurts of activity, but for most of the time, there’s very little going on. Well, at least for the Tampa Bay Lightning. So why not look at some players from the franchise’s past? Some glorious, some not so glorious. How’d they get here? What did they do? Where did they go? It’s time for a little bit of history. If you have a player you’d like me to cover, please leave your suggestions in the comments.
Today, it’s none other than Ruslan Fedotenko. Our hero. Our Stanley Cup clinching goal scorer. Let’s just take a brief intermission to remember that moment in history.
That felt good. Also notice that he’s using a yellow stick. The three most important goals scored in Tampa Bay Lightning history all came off the blade of a yellow stick with Fedotenko’s two goals in game seven and Martin St. Louis’ Game Six overtime winner.
Fedotenko was born in Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union. He was never drafted and was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers at the beginning of the 1999-00 season after he scored 43 goals and 77 points in 55 games for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL. He was with the Flyers organization for three seasons, recording 33 goals and 29 assists over 152 NHL games. He also scored a goal for Team Ukraine in one game during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Coming off a 17 goal 26 point season for the Flyers, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Fedotenko from Philadelphia. The Lightning traded the 4th overall pick in the first round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft for Fedotenko and two second round picks. Joni Pitkanen, on whom the Flyers used the 4th overall pick, only played in 535 NHL games while Fedotenko went on to play in another 711 NHL career games.
Fedotenko only played for the Lightning for four seasons with the 2004 NHL Lockout sandwiched in the middle. He played in 313 games with 74 goals and 70 assists for 144 points. The majority of his production came at even strength. His best season came in 2005-06 when he scored 26 goals, 22 of which were at even strength, and 41 points. He would never surpass either of those totals again in his NHL career.
But the two most important goals he scored came in Game Seven of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals. He scored both goals in a 2-1 win to clinch the Stanley Cup for the Lightning. His most common partners through his time with the Lightning were Vincent Lecavalier and Vinny Prospal with those two getting 27 and 20 assists respectively off of Fedotenko goals. He also spent a good chunk of time with Brad Richards and St. Louis with both players recording 13 assists each on Fedotenko goals.
38 of his 74 goals were scored on home ice, including all four of his empty net goals for the Lightning as well as one overtime winner. In 42 career playoff games for the Lightning, Fedotenko scored 12 goals, with all 12 coming during the 2003-04 playoffs. He only recorded three assists for the Lightning in the playoffs.
Fedotenko debuted for the Lightning on 10/10/2002 in an away game against the Florida Panthers. He only recorded one shot on goal and did not get on the scoresheet. It didn’t take him long though to get his first Lightning goal as in the very next game at home against the Carolina Hurricanes, he recorded two goals. He followed that up with a goal and two assists in the next game against the Atlanta Thrashers at home.
Fedotenko wore #26 with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to being traded to the Lightning. For obvious reasons, he could not wear that number in Tampa Bay. Instead, he changed to #17. When he left the Lightning, he returned to his #26. The only other numbers he wore in his career were #50 when he first came up with the Flyers and #19 for one season with the New York Rangers. Fedotenko was the 10th player to wear #17 for the Lightning. Only Alex Killorn has worn #17 for longer than Fedotenko did.
Lightning Departure and Rest of Career
Following the 2006-07 season, Fedotenko became an unrestricted free agent. He signed with the New York Islanders and played one season with them. He then moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins for two seasons winning his second Stanley Cup ring in 2008-09 with them. He finished his NHL career with two years with the New York Rangers and one last season with the Flyers in 2012-13.
Fedotenko finished his NHL career with 173 goals and 366 points over 863 career games. He added 22 goals and 40 points in 108 career playoff games to go with his two Stanley Cup rings.
During the 2012-13 lockout, Fedotenko played for Donbass Donetsk of the KHL in Ukraine. When the lockout ended, he returned to the Philadelphia Flyers but only scored four goals and 13 points in 47 games. He returned to the Donbass and the KHL for the 2013-14 season serving as the team’s captain. Fedotenko attempted an NHL return in 2014-15 and 2015-16 playing in the AHL for the Iowa Wild, Minnesota’s farm team. Due to injuries, he was only able to play in 29 games with three goals and seven points before finally retiring from hockey.