By: Nick Lanciani
Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Current Retired Numbers- None
Recommended Numbers to Retire
4 Vincent Lecavalier
Prior to being bought-out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2013, Vincent Lecavalier was crucial to the heart and soul of the franchise. Lecavalier’s leadership and craft left quite an impact on the Lightning, having won a Stanley Cup in 2004 with the franchise. Throughout Lecavalier’s storied career he has had eight 60-points- or more- seasons, all with Tampa, as he has recently battled a rash of injuries and healthy scratches with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Regardless, Lecavalier remained faithful to the Lightning during his time in Tampa. Rumors had swirled and a trade was nearly complete in 2009, that would have sent him to his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens, but Lecavalier was determined to stay in Tampa for the rest of his career. He wore number 4 with the Lightning out of respect for two of his all time favorite players- Montreal’s Jean Béliveau and Boston Bruins defenseman, Bobby Orr.
In Tampa, he made number 4 his own. When the time comes for Lecavalier to call it quits, the Lightning will undoubtedly call it quits on using the number 4 and raise it to the rafters of Amalie Arena.
The 1st overall selection of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft was the first success story of all things regarding scouting and player development in Tampa and preceded the 1st overall selection, ten years later, that is the current face of the Lightning- and another center- Steven Stamkos.
26 Martin St. Louis
St. Louis spent so much of his career proving people wrong about size in hockey. When many were calling for the sport to get bigger, taller, and quite possibly stronger (by default), Martin St. Louis with his 5’8” frame and dominated the game in so many underrated ways. We all know how much of a stale taste was left in the mouths of everyone after the way he left Tampa, but we all know that Lightning fans would be the first to welcome him back for his number retirement ceremony. I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long before number 26 is hanging from the rafters of Amalie Arena.
The native of Laval, Quebec did not disappoint over the years. In fact, in the years after winning the Cup in 2004, St. Louis put up some even more impressive regular season scoring numbers. It’s too bad we only got to see this phenomenal advocate of the game play in 9 Stanley Cup Playoffs out of his 17-year career. St. Louis was always the underdog you’d root for, because his foundation of class was taller than anyone else on the ice at all times. His clutch performances with the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, although ultimately disappointing in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, will never be forgotten.
19 Brad Richards
Richards spent the most amount of time with the Tampa Bay Lightning in his entire career and would surely receive consideration for retiring his number in Tampa, where his game stood out better than any other place he’s been since. While his connection between the Lightning and everything he did for them is surely fading, it is important to remember how much of a role he played for Tampa on the road to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship.
Until this year, Brad Richards held many playoff records for the Lightning. His 12-14-26 totals in 23 games played in the 2004 playoffs were never seen before by the franchise and not replicated until Tyler Johnson had 13-10-23 totals in 26 games played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ultimately the question that will be asked when considering retiring the number 19 in Tampa will look something like this- does being a valuable member of the franchise’s first championship, merely a little more than a decade in existence, translate into having your number retired regardless of how the rest of your career panned out?
91 Steven Stamkos
There is little question that number 91 will be retired one day by the Lightning. That is as long as they can keep Stamkos around long enough. The only thing that might put retirement celebrations on hold in Tampa is the looming contract extension agreement that may or may not still occur between Steven Stamkos and the Lightning. Again, as long as they have him for longer than the seven years he’s already been with the club, his number is a shoe in someday to be retired by the organization.