In the face of a large issue like an impending lockout, you wouldn’t think there was anything that could tick off hockey fans more than that. Apparently this isn’t true for some Lightning fans. Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times wrote a piece that sent some into a tizzy. All over a number.
For the first time since former captain Dave Andreychuk retired after the 2005-2006 season, a Bolts player will have the #25 on their sweater. As the news spread, so did the Twitter outrage. It’s easy to understand why some people are so upset.
That may be why this next statement may be surprising. There is NOTHING wrong with Matt Carle wearing #25 when he takes the ice for Tampa Bay.
When Andreychuk joined the club in 2001, he provided much needed leadership on the ice and in the locker room. In just his second season with Tampa, he was named captain and held that position until his retirement. There’s also the business of his being a part of the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion team and creating a culture of respect in the room.
It was an unforgettable story. After playing 22 years in the NHL without winning a Stanley Cup, Dave reached the mountain top in Tampa. He scored his 600th career goal here and reached his NHL high 272 career power play goals here as well. It’s easy to see why so many Lightning fans hold him in such high esteem. Heck, I do too. Look at the name of this blog.
Given Andreychuk’s contributions on the ice and in his current position of vice president in charge of fans, many believed his number would be retired by the team. The Lightning themselves have been a bit vague as to when or if that will happen. If a number isn’t retired, it’s available.
There’s no reason for fans to fly off the handle and paint Carle as a villain here. Some are still holding onto the bitterness of the Dan Boyle trade that saw Carle come to Tampa for 12 games in 2008. Cast your venom aside, sports fans. Matt went through the proper channels to make sure taking #25 was kosher. He spoke with GM Steve Yzerman about it and even got Andreychuk’s blessing.
“It’s just a number to me. I know you relate the number to the guy, but … (Carle is) comfortable with that number. He had a good couple of years in Philly. I know how he feels,” Andreychuk said.
“I just want to reiterate what the number means to me and what an honor it is for me to be the first guy to wear it since him,” Carle said.
(Quotes Source: Tampa Bay Times)
There you have it. Approval from the man himself. Andreychuk’s name and number may be hanging in the Tampa Bay Times Forum one day, but until then we have another #25 to root for. Don’t write Carle off just yet. He’s sure to surprise people once the games get going.