Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Original Lightning defenseman Roman Hamrlik returns — with the Capitals

TAMPA — To celebrate the start of the Lightning's 20th anniversary season, five players from the inaugural team were recognized at center ice before Saturday's game.

Four wore retro Tampa Bay jerseys: Brian Bradley, the team's first All-Star; Chris Kontos, who scored four goals in the franchise's first game; Joe Reekie and Pat Jablonski.

But to founder Phil Esposito, the fifth was just as special — even if he came off the Capitals' bench: Roman Hamrlik, the only active player from that team.

"I said to him, 'You're skinnier now than you were when you were 18,' " Esposito said, laughing. "He says, 'When you get older, you have to get thinner.' "

Before the Lightning made Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos top overall picks, Hamrlik, a strong, two-way defenseman currently listed at 206 pounds, was their first ever draft choice (No. 1 overall in 1992). And though Hamrlik, 38, has since played for five other teams, he said he holds his first 51/2 seasons in the league in special regard.

"It's really crazy," Hamrlik said before the game. "I have so many memories from here. It's where I started, and I had the opportunity to play with some great players. It's a new season now, and I'm with a different team now. But it's incredible. I'll never forget this place."

Hamrlik, traded to the Oilers on Dec. 30, 1997, also played for the Islanders, Flames and Canadiens before joining the Capitals last season. Saturday, he played his 1,380th game, most for a Czech-born player, and he missed nearly 150 more because of three lockouts.

To stay in the league, Hamrlik had to stay healthy — and evolve.

"When you get older, you train harder every summer," Hamrlik said. "And you play a little bit smarter. You try to play with your experience, stick on the ice, learn like (Red Wings star defenseman) Nicklas Lidstrom. I always look up to some of the older guys, how they play and try to learn from them so hopefully I can still bring something to the team."

Hamrlik, in the final year of his deal with Washington, said he still has passion for the game and is driven by the goal to win his first Stanley Cup. But he admitted he never envisioned being here, more than two decades removed from his debut, for the Lightning's commemorative celebration.

"It's going to be a special night for me; a special night for the fans, for the Tampa Bay Lightning, for the organization," Hamrlik said. "I'm really lucky to still play hockey right now at this level, and I'm going to try to enjoy every day of it."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
How the Lightning did its best work on the Devils short-handed

How the Lightning did its best work on the Devils short-handed

TAMPA — The Lightning rolled past the Devils in five games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs quarterfinal series largely because the penalty kill became a beast, killing off 16 of 19, including the final 15 when down a man.Two of those three goals al...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bruins’ Brad Marchand: ‘You have to be willing to do anything … in order to win’

Bruins’ Brad Marchand: ‘You have to be willing to do anything … in order to win’

Brad Marchand might be the ultimate pest, but he's not the original.Not even in his own family.The Boston Bruins left wing writes in a first-person story published last week in The Players' Tribune that he got his inspiration from his younger br...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning wait goes on: Leafs top Bruins to force Game 7

Lightning wait goes on: Leafs top Bruins to force Game 7

TORONTO — Frederik Andersen made 32 saves as the Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-1 to force a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series Monday night.William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Tomas Plekanec, into an empty net, scored for the Leafs, who tr...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets. The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Mon...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Published: 04/21/18