Lightning fans commemorate Stanley Cup title with tattoos

Two fans on opposite sides of the globe wanted a more lasting way to memorialize the second championship in franchise history.
The Lightning tattoos of Dylon Hickey, left, and Alexei Chelukanov, right.
The Lightning tattoos of Dylon Hickey, left, and Alexei Chelukanov, right. [ Courtesy of Dylon Hickey, left; Courtesy of Alexei Chelukanov/Ivan Chesnokov/Instagram ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020|Updated Nov. 4, 2020

What’s almost as everlasting as having your favorite team’s name engraved on the Stanley Cup? For two Lightning fans on opposite sides of the globe, the answer was a commemorative tattoo.

Dylon Hickey and Alexei Chelukanov wanted to commemorate the team’s 2020 championship in the most permanent way.

Hickey, 28 of Killeen, Texas, wrestled with three ideas before settling on the perfect image to add to his collection of more than 25 tattoos.

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Pat Maroon’s boat parade outfit (complete with a pair of sunglasses, fedora and Stanley Cup-themed scarf) and Nikita Kucherov “drunkenly hugging the Cup” were hard to pass up.

“(Kucherov’s) been a character,” Hickey said. “I told my wife, it was like I’ve never seen Kucherov smile before. ”

But neither idea was quite right.

Hickey couldn’t get the image of Alex Killorn on his Sea-Doo — with captain Steven Stamkos on the back, hoisting the Stanley Cup — out of his head.

Now, it’s on the back of his right knee, too. Hickey requested that his artist make the image look more like a cartoon.

Fitttingly, Hickey is a huge fan of the “Dock Talk with Killer” Instagram live show that Killorn hosted from his Sea-Doo during the pause.

Originally, Hickey was planning to have a pair of dragons tattooed onto the space. But when the Lightning won the Cup a week before his appointment with his artist, Hickey suddenly had a better idea.

“It’s been a pretty cool month,” he said.

But Hickey didn’t just get the tattoo on a whim.

Twelve years ago, when Hickey was 16, his cousin picked up a Lightning hat from a Goodwill store because he thought the logo was cool. Neither knew what it meant, so Hickey investigated and discovered Tampa Bay’s NHL team. He started watching games and got hooked.

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The Army staff sergeant has cheered on the team as he moved from Italy to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Washington to Fort Hood, Texas.

“I think the ‘Distant Thunder’ thing is super cool, because there are a lot of us,” Hickey said. “There’s a lot of people that support from afar.”

Chelukanov is another. He’s cheered the Lightning from Russia for years and is the founder of the team’s Russian fan club.

Like Hickey, Chelukanov knew he had to find a way to celebrate the Stanley Cup season.

He also wanted to fulfill a promise he made to Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy last summer when the two met in Russia. Vasilevskiy saw the tattoo of Dave Andreychuk hoisting the Cup in 2004 on Chelukanov’s right arm and asked if he’d do the same if the Lightning won the Cup the following season.

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“This promise is well documented,” joked Chelukanov, 41 of Moscow.

Chelukanov is in the process of having a full sleeve featuring the faces of the 2019-20 Lightning players whose names have been engraved on the Cup tattooed on his left arm.

Chelukanov has two sessions planned over the next month to continue working on the tattoo with artist Ivan Chesnokov, who also did his Andreychuk one. Chesnokov, of Moscow, will spend eight hours per session working on the tattoo. The two watch Netflix together to pass the time.

Chesnokov mapped out Chelukanov’s arm by taking a photo of it. The two then picked three to four photos of each player and decided which would fit best in a collage.

Chelukanov hopes the tattoo — which will depict the Stanley Cup at the top of his arm with Vasilevskiy, Stamkos and Conn Smythe Trophy-winning defenseman Victor Hedman around it — will be done by the time next season rolls around.

“The tangible action is very important to me,” he said.

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.

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