Dino's Hall of Fame career included Tampa Bay
When you think of Dino Ciccarelli, elected Tuesday to the Hockey Hall of Fame, you generally think of three teams -- the old Minnesota North Stars, the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings. The first 16 years of his career -- and his best seasons -- were spent with those three teams.
But he did spend a season and a half with the Lightning, so Tampa Bay fans disappointed with Dave Andreychuk not getting into the Hall can take some solace from Dino getting in. He joined the Bolts before the 1996-97 season and showed he still had the goal-scoring knack, potting an impressive 35 goals in 77 games. The next season, he had 11 goals in 34 games for a Lightning team out of the playoff hunt. Then-GM Phil Esposito did Ciccarelli a favor by shipping him to the Panthers midway through the 1997-98 season. Ciccarelli spent one more season with the Panthers before retiring
With a constant sour look on his face -- and I'm talking off the ice -- Ciccarelli had the reputation of being intimidating and miserable. But those in the media who dealt with him on a daily basis (including me -- I was the Lightning beat writer for the Times in those days) will tell you he was always friendly, available, cooperative and had both a tremendous sense of humor and an undying commitment to the team and the game. In short, he was a pleasure to cover.
By the way, Ciccarelli becomes only the second player who ever spent time in a Lightning uniform to make the Hall of Fame. The other was Denis Savard, who was inducted in 2000 after playing for the Lightning from 1993 to 1995.
Meantime, how does Andreychuk, who is 13th in NHL history with 640 goals, not make the Hall, especially in what was considered a weak year? He is now the only Hall of Fame-eligible player with 600 goals who is not in the Hall. And, unlike Ciccarelli, has his name on the Stanley Cup -- as a captain, no less. The knock has always been that while he scored a ton of goals, he never was considered an elite player at any one time in his career and his goal total was a product of longevity. That's hogwash. He's one of the highest scoring left wings in NHL history and the all-time leader in power-play goals. And, 640 goals is 640 goals, no matter how you get them. Andreychuk's longevity (he's fifth all-time in games with 1,639) should be applauded, not used as weapon to discredit his other numbers.
So today, Lightning fans, be happy for Dino Ciccarelli. He was one of yours and he deserved it. But feel Andreychuk's disappointment and hope that Hall voters will come to their senses and eventually make it right by putting him alongside Ciccarelli and the game's other Hall of Famers.