Many, many, many years ago (six), Raw Charge started a series to help pass the time through the dog days of summer. As the offseason grinds on, we figured it would be a good time to bring back the series and walk back down memory lane as we remember some players. Now that the offseason is in the fall/winter sweaters are much more comfortable to wear.
As a refresher, since it’s been awhile since we did one of these, this isn’t necessarily the greatest player to ever wear the number, but the one you remember the most. In most cases, like this one, it ends up being the same person, but sometimes it’s not.
Today’s number is “33”, a personal favorite of mine since my favorite baseball player when I was growing up was Eddie Murray who wore that number for the Baltimore Orioles. Oddly enough, there are only eight players that have worn this number in Lightning franchise history. In recent years it’s rarely been seen on the ice, save for a couple of players wearing it for call-ups.
Then again, in NHL history there haven’t been many great “33”s. It isn’t seared into our memories like “99” or “66”. Patrick Roy runs away with the best player to wear the number in NHL history, followed by Henrik Sedin. After that it’s a bit of a toss up.
As for me personally, there is a far-and-away leader in this category, followed by a lot of “oh yeah, he wore it as well” folks. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the contenders.
8. David Koci (33 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Assist)
After starting his career in Chicago (with his most notable moment being having his nose rearranged by Zdeno Chara - warning: there is a bit of blood in that video) Koci was signed as a free agent by the Lightning in July. He made the team but was scratched for the first five games. He was inserted into the line-up in place of a slumping Radim Vrbata but only played 3 shifts and 41 seconds (but managed to take back-to-back penalties). Following the game he was placed on waivers and claimed by St. Louis.
Coach Barry Melrose wasn’t happy about it (despite scratching him for four of the first five games) telling the St. Petersburg Times “That’s why the United States has a nuclear arsenal. It’s called a deterrent. Think Boogaard (Minnesota Wild’s Derek) is in the lineup because he’s going to get 10 goals? I don’t think so.”
Melrose and his understanding of nuclear geopolitics wouldn’t be around a month later when the Lightning claimed Koci back via waivers. After a couple of more healthy scratches he returned to the line-up on November 26th. He lasted a little longer (2:02 of ice time) and got into a fight. Also getting into a fight that night, a young teenager by the name of Steven Stamkos.
Koci broke his hand in that fight against Colton Orr. When he returned in January he played almost every night, although only six to eight minutes a night. He picked up an assist in a February game against Boston (Mark Recchi scored the goal). Koci’s lone Lightning goal came against Carey Price and the Canadiens in March.
He would sign with Colorado the next summer and play with them for two seasons before heading over to his native Czech Republic for two seasons with HC Sparta Praha.
7. Benoit Hogue (62 Games, 11 Goals, 14 Assists)
In the mid-1990s Benoit Hogue was a pretty reliable scorer, ripping off four straight seasons of 30 or more goals. Injuries had hampered him a bit by the time the Lightning signed him in the summer of 1998, but he was coming off a post-season in which he was one of the top scorers for the Western Conference champion Dallas Stars.
He was part of an influx of veterans that new owner Art Williams hoped would make the the team competitive. General Manager Phil Esposito wasn’t as enthused about the pick, stating in his autobiography, Thunder and Lightning, that he would have rather spent the money on a goaltender.
Esposito was right, the money would have been spent better on a goalie as the 1998-99 Lightning used six different players in net. After struggling to start the season (goalless in his first 26 games and Jacques Demers almost cut him in early December) Hogue held his own as the second-line center, his 25 points was sixth on the team despite the fact that he was traded in March to Dallas for Sergey Gusev.
During his struggles on the ice, he also had to deal with a tragedy off of it. At the end of October, while on a road trip in Washington, he received the news that his younger sister, Marlene, had been murdered in Montreal. While he hadn’t spoken to his sister in four years, she had been estranged from most of the family, it couldn’t have been easy for him to focus on hockey, especially since the case garnered a lot of attention in Quebec.
While it couldn’t ease the pain that comes with losing a sibling, Hogue’s return to Dallas did give him a moment of joy on the ice. Despite tearing his ACL and MCL in late May, he made it back and played 20 minutes in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final (aka the Hull Was In The Crease game).
He hung around for a few more years, playing parts of seasons with Phoenix, Dallas, Boston and Washington before retiring at the end of the 2001-02 season.
6. Brantt Myhres 1995 (15 Games, 2 Goals, 0 Assists, 81 PIMs)
Myhres was part of the Lightning’s inaugural draft class, going in the 5th round of the 1992 draft after racking up 381 penalty minutes for Lethbridge in the WHL. He made his NHL debut in March of 1995 and promptly dropped his gloves to fight the Whalers Mark Janssens (Myhres was wearing “27” in the game but would switch to “33” soon). In his next game, against the Flyers, he scored his first NHL goal. Not a bad way to start a career for a 20-year-old in 1995.
He played in 15 games that season, picking up way more penalty minutes than ice time (including an impressive 39 PIMs in back-to-back games), but scoring a second goal. He would resurface with the Lightning in the 1996-97 season (wearing a different number) and play in 47 games. The following offseason he was traded to Edmonton for Vladimir Vujtek and a third round pick (that the Lightning used to draft Dmitry Afansenkov).
Myhres career would be derailed by issues with drugs and alcohol, getting suspended from the league multiple times before receiving a lifetime ban from the sport in North America in 2006. He worked hard to get his life back in order and then used his experience to help other players.
In 2015, he returned to hockey in a player confidant role for the Los Angeles Kings. He was a resource the players could use, speaking to him confidentiality about the issues they were experiencing and as a former player and addict he could help them out. He worked in that role until February of 2018.
5. Greg McKegg (15 Games, 0 Goals, 1 Assist)
The Lightning claimed McKegg on waivers in February of 2017. By the beginning of March he was playing regularly due to injuries and one of the few trade deadlines where the Lightning were sellers. With Steven Stamkos injured and after dealing Valterri Filppula and Brian Boyle the Lightning needed bodies so McKegg slotted in as part of the bottom six.
His lone point came during the Lightning’s furious comeback from a 4-1 deficit against Chicago on March 27th. He assisted on Anton Stralman’s goal that cut the Blackhawks lead to 4-3. Jonathan Drouin would score the equalizer a few minutes later and Yanni Gourde won it in overtime.
The former Maple Leaf has played for three different teams over the last couple of years, finding minutes with Pittsburgh, Carolina, and the Rangers.
4. Yves Racine 1998 (60 Games, 0 Goals, 8 Assists)
Racine is one of those players who it feels like was with the Lightning longer than just one season. Yet, he was only with the team in the 1997-98 season. Having lost Bill Houlder and Rudy Poeschek in free agency, the Lightning needed help on the blue line. The plans were for Racine, who had played on five different teams over the previous five seasons, to provide a little offense and help mentor Roman Hamrlik. After getting the ok from potential owners, the Maloof brothers (a story in and of itself) the Lightning signed Racine to a one-year contract with an option for a second year.
Things unfortunately didn’t turn out the way things were planned for Racine or the team. Racine had issues finding playing time at the beginning of the season and was a healthy scratch a few times. Playing time increased in November when Jacques Demers, who had been the coach of the Red Wings when Racine was drafted in the first round in 1987 (four spots ahead of Joe Sakic) and had also coached him in Montreal, took over for the fired Terry Crisp.
Following the season, the Lightning exposed him in the Nashville expansion draft and when he wasn’t taken, declined to pick up his option. Racine signed with Jokerit in Finland and played in Europe until 2005-06.
One of the reasons the Lightning didn’t sign him - lack of offense. Only five players (excluding goaltenders) have played more games with the Lightning without scoring a goal.
3. Cameron Gaunce (5 Games, 1 Goal, 3 Assists)
Honestly, Gaunce is ranked this high because I’ve spent a lot of time watching Syracuse hockey over the past two seasons. As you can see by his numbers he hasn’t spent a lot of time in Tampa during his time with the organization.
The veteran (and Stanley Cup Champion - he won his with Pittsburgh) has been a depth call-up over the past two seasons, filling in when the Lightning have undergone a rash of injuries on the blueline. He was on the postseason roster in 2018-19, but somewhat surprisingly didn’t make the bubble roster last year. In fact, he wasn’t even part of the summer training camp roster.
He did score one goal in this past season - a slapshot from the blue line in a 4-3 win over Colorado in February. He also had some shifts as a forward in a couple of his games.
As of right now the veteran blueliner is still a free agent, but there is a chance, once the Lightning figure out their larger issues, he could end up back in the organization filling the same role as injury call-up and veteran presence in Syracuse.
2. Dan Ellis (31 Games, .889 SV%, 2.93 GAA, 13-7-6)
Remember when the Lightning traded for Curtis McElhinney way back in 2011? Probably not since his tenure lasted roughly four days before the Ottawa Senators claimed him off of waivers from the Lightning. Well, the player going back the other way in the original trade was Dan Ellis.
Ellis had been signed the previous summer as a free agent and potential rival for Mike Smith in net. Unfortunately neither player really shined as the number one netminder, forcing General Manager Steve Yzerman to bring in Dwayne Roloson to help solidify the goaltending. With an extra goalie on the roster, Mr Yzerman dealt him to Anaheim for McElhinney (yes it was another goalie, but the thought was McElhinney would clear waivers and be able to help Syracuse in the AHL).
In the end Ellis is probably more remembered for his social media shenanigans (remember when #DanEllisProblems was a thing?) then he was for his play on the ice. During his short Lightning career he wasn’t great, he wasn’t bad, he just was.
1. Fredrik Modin (445 Games, 145 Goals, 141 Assists)
Well, it’s pretty much a race for second place, isn’t it? He wore the jersey the longest and was one of the most popular players during his six seasons in Tampa. If Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, and Marty St. Louis were the Big Three during the Lightning’s first sustained run of success, then Modin was a close fourth. When he left the team he ranked second in goals scored, fourth in games played, and sixth in assists in franchise history. His 145 goals scored is still good for seventh all time.
For those around here who might not remember him, think of Modin as an Ondrej Palat-esque player except with a bigger slapshot. He came to the Lightning in one of the all-time lopsided trades (Cory Cross and a 7th round pick to Toronto for Modin) and was a steady producer for six seasons, topping 30 goals twice and making the All-Star team in 2001.
Despite his success in the black and white, Modin was deemed expendable in the post Nikolai Khabibulin-era. After middling success with John Grahme and Sean Burke in net, GM Jay Feaster wanted to improve the talent in net. After flirting with names such a J.S. Giguere and Roberto Luongo, Feaster focused on Marc Denis, a goaltender he knew from his time as the president of the Hershey Bears.
In order to pry Denis from the Blue Jackets, Feaster had to send Modin and Fredrik Norrena to Columbus. Modin had one solid season with the Blue Jackets before injuries set in. He played in Columbus for four seasons and then bounced around from Los Angeles to Atlanta to Calgary before retiring after the 2010-11 season.
So, is Freddie Modin the player you picture in the number 33 sweater? Or is it someone else? Vote below!
Who is your favorite 33?
This poll is closed