Who would go into a Lightning Ring of Honor?

by Gary Shelton on May 13, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamos is the second entrant into a Ring of Honor.

Stamos is the second entrant into a Ring of Honor.

Friday, 6 a.m.

Pictures the jerseys hanging from the rafters. Picture the fans pointing this number out and that one. Picture the shared stories.

Consider the men. Consider the moments. Consider the memories.

Think, if you will, about a Tampa Bay Lighting Ring of Honor.

Oh, it doesn't have to be in a circle around the skyboxes if owner

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Jeff Vinik doesn't want it. It can be in a room. It can be outside of Amalie Arena. But it's time this franchise embraced its history.

Certainly, the team has been successful enough. In 23 seasons, the Lightning has made the playoffs nine times. That's only one less time than the Bucs have made it in 40 seasons. It's more than double the times the Rays (four) have made it in 18. In fact, the Lightning has reached the playoffs eight times in the last 13 seasons.

So where to start with the Lightning Ring of Honor. And how deep should it be?

Me? I say 10 players, maybe 15. But to get the discussion going, here's a list of 20.

Herman is climbing up the Lighting's all-time rankings./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Herman is climbing up the Lighting's all-time rankings./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

1. Marty St. Louis: Have you ever read a terrific novel with an absolutely lousy ending? That's the St. Louis story. His was a great tale, an unwanted kid who arrived with a chip on his shoulder and proceeded to score a lot of the biggest goals in the history of the team. It doesn't matter what you think of his final days; St. Louis belongs.

2. Steven Stamkos: We start with the guy who left, and we follow with the guy who might. No one ever had a better knack for scoring goals. It would be a shame if his final days were ended because of a blood clot.

3. Phil Esposito: This franchise was his brainchild, and he has never left it. From the woman goalie to the blurred fax machine to the invisible investors, Espo is still the largest figure in the history of the Lightning.

4. Dave Andreychuk: Even after all these years, Andreychuk is the epitome of leadership. A top goal-scorer earlier in his career, he traded it in to help guide his team.

5. Vinny Lecavalier: A forward with tremendous skills, he was always big for this franchise as a symbol. He was the guy compared to Michael Jordan by Art Williams. He was the guy given the outsized contract by Oren Koules.

6. John Tortorella: Yeah, he ended up borderline nuts (and at times, he crossed the border). But it was his standards that fashioned the Bolts' Stanley Cup run, abbreviated press conferences and all.

7. Victor Hedman: Yes, he's still playing. But it would be silly to consider a Ring of Honor without the Ice Linebacker.

8. Roman Hamrlik: Before Hedman, Hamrlik was Hedman.

9. Ben Bishop: No one has won more games than Bishop. Think about this: Over the last four seasons, counting playoffs, he has won 150 games.

10. Jeff Vinik: Talk about Community Heroes. Vinik has become the most popular owner in town through his charities and the way he cares about his team.

11. Brad Richards: Richards was the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs the year the Lightning won it. A classy, talented player.

12. Terry Crisp: The Lightning's first coach was the perfect coach to introduce a franchise, including the time a questioner asked him why he didn't play a really, really fat guy in goal.

13. John Cullen: Sometimes, the fight is about more important things than hockey.

14. Pavel Kubina: A lasting memory of the Stanley Cup win? Kubina running across the ice and sliding on his stomach like a young boy in his glee.

15. Nikolai Khabibulin: He wasn't a star all year, but he was huge for the Lightning at the most important time.

16. Brian Bradley: He made the all-star team twice for the Lightning in those early days.

17. Dan Boyle: When people would talk to Torts about the Lightning's Big Three, he would correct them to include Boyle.

18. Nikita Kucherov: He's still a young player, and it's far too early to suggest lifetime honors for him. But, darn, Kucherov is good.

19. Jay Feaster: He made peace between Tortorella and Lecavalier. He would plead for money with Bill Davidson. He settled everything down so this team could get good.

20. Jon Cooper: If Kucherov can get into the conversation, Cooper should be able to, also.

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