Tanner Richard on 'surreal' NHL debut
Lightning prospect Tanner Richard was so pumped for Tuesday's NHL debut, he said he was one of the first players to arrive at Amalie Arena.
That adrenaline hit a crescendo during the national anthem when Richard, 23, in the starting lineup, stood on the blueline.
"I was pretty nervous," Richard said. "I felt like I was going to fall, my legs were jittery. That's when it really sunk in when I was standing for the national anthem. I'm like, 'Holy crap, I'm in the NHL right now.'"
Richard won the opening faceoff and had a solid debut, not looking out of place at all. Richard, a feisty forward who calls himself a "rat," had two hits and brought some energy on a fourth line with J.T. Brown and Cedric Paquette. Richard had one shot in 12 minutes, 23 seconds of ice time, saying he felt more comfortable after the first couple shifts.
With forwards Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan injured, Richard got his shot, the third-round pick from 2012 relishing every moment.
"I've been waiting for his moment for a long time," Richard said. "It's everything I kind of imagined it'd be. For the last 20 years or so I'd imagined so many scenarios going through my head about playing in the NHL. It was a surreal moment."