Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Ex-Wing Rafalski signs with Lightning ECHL team

Interesting development on Thursday as ECHL Florida signed 40-year-old defenseman Brian Rafalski, above right, defending the Penguins' Sidney Crosby in the 2009 Stanley Cup final with the Red Wings.

Why is this interesting? Because the Lightning shares the franchise in Estero with the Hurricanes, and because Rafalski played for the Red Wings from 2007-11, a time when Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was a Detroit executive.

Rafalski retired in 2011. Everblades coach Greg Poss told the News-Press in Fort Myers that Rafalski got the bug when he played in a Wings alumni game at last week's Winter Classic. Yzerman played in that game, too.

That's a lot of what-ifs, and Yzerman on Thursday through a Lightning spokesman said he knew nothing about Rafalski and had nothing to say.

Rafalski also lives in the Fort Myers area, has been a youth coach for the Everblades and apparently has served as the team's chaplain.

But the Lightning certainly could use some blue line depth, and with Rafalski down the road in Estero, it's not a stretch to believe Yzerman will at least keep an eye on him.

"He played in the Winter Classic and got the bug," Poss told the News-Press. "He wants to play in the NHL again."

"I'm just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey," Rafalski said in a statement released by the Everblades.

Rafalski, who retired after the Wings' 2011 Stanley Cup playoff run, has 79 goals and 515 points in 833 career games for the Devils and Detroit. A three-time Stanley Cup champ (twice with New Jersey, once with the Red Wings), Rafalski also played for the United States in three Olympics.

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