According to my research, the Tampa Bay Lightning have sent players to the Olympics 21 different times since NHL players were allowed to take part in the Olympics in 1998. We’ve now had two Olympics in a row where NHL players have not been allowed, and we may not see NHL players in the Olympics ever again. It’s unfortunate, because it means Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev, and Andrei Vasilevskiy may never get to experience representing their nation at the biggest international tournament.
What we can do though is put together the Lightning’s All-Olympics team. To be eligible for selection, the player must have been a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning when the Olympic break happened and they went to represent their country. During the NHL’s involvement with the Olympics 19 different players made the list with only Martin St. Louis and Pavel Kubina going to the Olympics twice while members of the Lightning.
We’ll be picking three forwards, two defensemen, and a goaltender for the All-Olympic team and trying to keep their positions accurate without moving players to a position they didn’t play. Criteria for selection will be based on player contribution to their team, as well as team success in the Olympic tournament.
The Tampa Bay Lightning All-Olympic Team
Fredrik Modin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis
Matthias Ohlund - Pavel Kubina
LW Fredrik Modin
Modin represented Sweden in the 2006 Olympics while a member of the Lightning. In eight games played, he scored two goals and recorded three points. Team Sweden won the tournament and the Gold Medal which made Modin a member of the Triple Gold club as he won a Gold Medal in the World Championship in 1998 and the Stanley Cup as a member of the Lightning in 2004. The Triple Gold Club is an elite group of players that have won all three championships with only 29 members. The only other member of the Triple Gold Club to play for the Lightning is Corey Perry.
While 2006 marked the first time that Modin represented Sweden in the Olympics it was the 7th time he played for them internationally. He played in a U20 World Junior Championship, four World Championships, and one World Cup of Hockey prior to his 2006 Olympics tournament. He represented Sweden one more time in his career at the 2010 Olympics where Sweden failed to medal. In total, Modin has two gold medals, a silver medal, and bronze medal in international play.
C Brad Richards
Ricards’ only Olympics appearance came in 2006 when he recorded two goals and four points in six games for Team Canada. Canada failed to medal losing in the Quarterfinals to Russia, who lost in the Bronze medal game. When you read the roster of Canada, it’s chockfull of recognizable names, a handful of which either are or will be in the Hall of Fame. They had Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur in net who both performed well with both over .920 SV%. But the offense up front was not as elite as it needed to be, with Richards leading Team Canada with his four points in six games. One of the most notable names not on the roster was NHL rookie Sidney Crosby who was on his way to a 39 goals, 102 point season in the NHL.
This Olympics was the last time Richards represented Team Canada in international play. He had previous played in the U20 World Junior Championship, World Championship, and World Cup of Hockey once each. He picked up a gold medal in the World Cup of Hockey and a bronze in the U20 WJC.
RW Martin St. Louis
Honestly, this last spot could have gone to a couple different players, especially if you look at points per game. St. Louis though ended up getting the nod because he appeared in two Olympics for Team Canada. His first was the aforementioned 2006 Olympics with Brad Richards (as well as Vincent Lecavalier) where he recorded two goals and three points in six games, just behind Richards and tied for second on the team in scoring.
He was left off the 2010 Olympics roster and wasn’t happy about it. He was initially left off the 2014 team as well, and was again reportedly mad about that. He ended up making the team as a replacement due to Steven Stamkos being unable to return from a broken leg in time for the game. Those two snubs for the Olympics though ended up being too much for him and his relationship with Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman and may have been a factor that led to him demanding a trade and leaving Tampa shortly after the 2014 Olympics.
St. Louis was mostly a passenger on Team Canada as the last forward on the roster and did not record a point in five games, but got a Gold Medal for his efforts. This was the last time he represented Canada internationally and his fifth over all. In addition to his two Olympics appearances, he won a Gold Medal in the World Cup of Hockey and won two Silver Medals in two World Championship appearances. If he had managed to win a Gold Medal in one of those two tournaments, he would have become a member of the Triple Gold Club with the 2014 Olympic Gold Medal.
LD Mattias Ohlund
This pick was almost Roman Hamrlik until I looked up when he was traded during the 1997-98 season and it was before his appearance in the Olympics. In trying to keep the defensemen in the correct position, this pick came down to Ohlund or Andrej Meszaros, so I picked Ohlund. Ohlund played in four games and record a goal for Team Sweden. Sweden lost in the Quarterfinals to Slovakia who lost in the Bronze Medal game.
The 2010 Olympics were Ohlund’s last international tournament for Team Sweden with his career ending just over a year later due to a knee issue. In total, he represented Sweden in 11 major international tournaments; three times in the U20 World Junior Championships, four times in the Olympics, three times in the World Championships, and once in the World Cup of Hockey. He finished his career with Gold Medals at the Olympics and World Championships, silver medals twice at the U20 WJC and once in the World Championships, and a bronze medal in the U20 WJC and World Championship. Ohlund was only missing a Stanley Cup to become a member of the Triple Gold Club.
RD Pavel Kubina
One of the best late round draft picks ever by the Lightning, having been selected in the 7th round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, Kubina represented Team Czechia twice at the Olympics while a member of the Lightning. His first appearance came in 2002 when he recorded one assist in four games. He appeared again in 2006, record a goal and an assists in eight games, winning a Bronze Medal.
Kubina appeared in the Olympics one more time in his career in 2010. In total, Kubina appeared in three Olympics, four World Championships, and a U20 World Junior Championship. He won three gold medals in the World Championships and his one Bronze in the Olympics. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.
G Nikolai Khabibulin
This one was an easy pick as only four Lightning goaltenders have made the Olympics, and Khabibulin is the only one to play more than two games. He appeared for Russia in 2002 (during his first full season with the Bolts), playing in six games with a 3.24 GAA and .930 SV% going 3-2-1 with one shutout and winning a Bronze Medal while also being named the Olympics Best Goaltender. This was also Khabibulin’s last international appearance for Russia.
Khabibulin also appeared in two U20 World Junior Championships and a World Cup of Hockey. He was also on the 1992 Olympic Roster for the Unified Team (the Soviet Union had just dissolved and was transitioning at that time in the Olympic sports) but didn’t play any games. He did win an Olympic Gold Medal for his bench warming. Additionally, Khabibulin won a Gold Medal at the U20 WJC and the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004. Khabibulin never appeared for Russia in the World Championships, so never had a chance to complete the Triple Gold Club membership requirements.
It’s hard to win medals in the Olympics. It’s also hard to make it onto the roster of the power house teams that have a chance of medaling at the Olympics. The Lightning have had their share of players that were good enough to make it onto their nation’s Olympic roster, and if not for missing the last Olympics and the upcoming Olympics, we would have had more players to choose from that are current Lightning players.
Modin and St. Louis were the only players to win a Gold Medal while a member of the Lightning. Pavel Kubina, Antero Niittymaki, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Sami Salo were the only ones to win a Bronze Medal. That makes 6 of 19 players that have gone to the Olympics from the Lightning who have even medaled.
The Lightning also haven’t had a player that outright dominated in an Olympic tournament, other than perhaps Khabibulin in 2002. Richard’s four points is the most that a Lightning player has scored in the Olympics. Two goals is also the best for a Lightning player, which was done by Richards, Modin, and St. Louis, all during the 2006 Olympics.
The best years for the Lightning were 2006 and 2014 in terms of number of players represented in the Olympics, with three going in 1998, 2002, and 2010. In 2006, the Lightning had Richards, St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier representing Canada, Kubina for Czechia, Modin for Sweden, and John Grahame for USA. In 2014, the Lightning sent a lot of young players from smaller countries with Richard Panik for Slovakia, Kristers Gudlevskis for Latvia (and a memorable near upset of Canada), Ondrej Palat and Radko Gudas for Czechia, Sami Salo for Finland and St. Louis for Canada.
The Lightning could have had more in 2014, as Valtteri Filppula was selected, but was unable to play due to injury and Victor Hedman was a notable snub from the Team Sweden roster. Steven Stamkos was also selected for 2014, but broke his leg and was replaced by St. Louis.
I would love to see NHL players participate in the Olympics again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will happen. There’s too many financial challenges between the NHL owners and the IIHF and IOC. While the owners had agreed to go to the 2022 Olympics, they were able to get out of that commitment after a wave of COVID-related game postponements around Christmas. The protocols around the tournament were also hanging like a dark cloud of NHL player participation.
Maybe in 2026 we’ll see NHL players going, and we’ll have some great Lightning players to add to this list in the future. But it does make me sad that Stamkos is unlikely to be in the conversation for Team Canada that far into the future.