Friday, June 20, 2014

1995-96 Tampa Bay Lightning Roman Hamrlik Jersey

The 1992 NHL Entry Draft was held on this date in Montreal and the Tampa Bay Lightning selected defenseman Roman Hamrlik of Czechoslovakia with the first overall pick, the first Czech ever drafted #1 overall.

Hamrlik and Esposito
Hamrlik with Phil Esposito after being drafted #1 overall in 1992.
So why is the #1 pick given a jersey with the #2?

The Ottawa Senators followed with center Alexi Yashin at #2, Mike Rathje went third to the San Jose Sharks, left wing Todd Warriner fourth to the Quebec Nordiques and the New York Islanders rounded out the top five with the rugged Darius Kasparitis, making three defensemen among the top five.

Other notable selections in the first round were Cory Stillman at #6 to the Calgary Flames, Sergei Gonchar went 14th to the Washington Capitals and long-time NHLers Martin Straka 19th to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Grant Marshall 23rd to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Later round successes were Michael Peca at #40 to Vancouver, Darren McCarty #46 to Detroit, #65 Kirk Maltby to Edmonton, #88 Jere Lehtinen to the Minnesota North Stars, Adrian Aucoin #117 to Vancouver, the indestructable Ian Laperriere to St. Louis at #158, Stephane Yelle at #186 in round 8 to New Jersey and future NHL All-Stars Nikolai Khabibulin #204 in Round 9 to Winnipeg and in Round 10, Anson Carter, #220, to Quebec.

The latest pick to see NHL action was Andrei Vasilyev (#248) who played 16 games over four seasons with the Islanders (15) and the Phoenix Coyotes (1).

Hiroyuki Miura became the first Japanese player drafted at #260 in the 11th and final round, if you don't count the fictitious Taro Tsujimoto taken in 1974 by Punch Imlach of the Buffalo Sabres! Miura played six games with the Wheeling Thunderbirds of the ECHL in 1993-94, but never came close to playing in the NHL.

Hamrlik made his NHL debut later in 1992 with the Lightning and played in 67 games and scored 21 points. He maintained his scoring pace the next season, but raised his toughness level, nearly doubling his penalty minutes from 71 to 135. Three more seasons in Tampa followed, including a career high 16 goals and 65 points in 1995-96, until Hamrlik was traded to the Edmonton Oilers halfway through the 1997-98 season as part of a five player trade.


Hamrlik Lightning photo hamrliklightning.jpg
Hamrlik during the 1997-98 season

Two and a half seasons in Edmonton were followed by a trade to the New York Islanders, where he played for four full seasons. He spent the lockout season of 2004-05 like many other European NHLers by returning to the final club he played for prior to moving to North America, in Hamrlik's case, ZPS in Ziln of the Czech Republic.


Hamrlik Islanders photo hamrlikIslanders.jpg
Hamrlik with the Islanders

With the lockout concluded, Hamrlik signed with the Calgary Flames as a free agent for two seasons prior to choosing the Montreal Canadiens as his next home beginning in 2007-08. He would play four seasons in Montreal before a move to the Washington Capitals for all of 2011-12. Once the lockout ended, he saw action in f4 games with the Capitals before being claimed by the New York Rangers in March, where he finished out his career with a final 12 games.


Hamrlik Canadiens photo hamrlikCanadiens.jpg
Hamrlik scoring against his old team, the Islanders, while with Montreal

A major reason for Hamrlik's lengthy NHL career was his remarkable consistency. From 1994 through 2011, Hamrlik has scored between 21 and 46 points, save for the one season he hit 65. He has also missed a minimum of games, a stretch of 14 of 15 NHL seasons playing 70 games or more from 1995-96 to 2011-12, a streak ended when he played "only" 68 games.

Internationally, his opportunities were somewhat limited by his regular appearances in the NHL playoffs, but Hamrlik as competed for the Czech Republic in the 1994 World Championships, the 1996 World Cup, the 1998 Olympics where he won a gold medal, the 2002 Olympics, the 2004 World Championship and the 2004 World Cup. Prior to his North American career, he played for Czechoslovakia in the 1991 and 1992 European U18 World Championships, winning gold twice and the 1992 World Juniors.


Harmrlik Czech Republic photo HarmrlikCzechRepublic.jpg
Hamrlik in action against Germany during the 2004 World Cup

Thanks to his longevity, he finished his career with 1,395 games played, 638 points from 155 goals and 483 assists.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Tampa Bay Lightning Roman Hamrlik jersey as worn during his highest scoring season when he scored a career high 16 goals and 65 points. He also made his first appearance in the NHL playoffs that season.

This style Lightning jersey was originally worn in their debut season of 1992-93 with a silver numbers and a blue drop shadow and a unique font for the names on the back. The following season the fonts were italicized, making for the best looking Lightning jerseys in their history.

For some reason, the club changed to radially arched letters and the now white paintbrush font numbers, which have little to do with the name "Lighting", after only just one season. This style remained in use through the 1999-2000 until they changed to a much more boring block style font and one color names with no arching or any other feature to make them unique, as all other Lightning fonts had been throughout their history up until this point. It's a change we've never understood, considering their past history of unusual choices.

Tampa Bay Lightning jersey
Tampa Bay Lightning jersey

Today's video section begins with Roman Hamrlik being selected first by a Third String Goalie favorite, Phil Esposito.


Next, Hamrlik converts the world's best saucer pass by Tomas Plekanec after Plekanec skates the length of the ice through the entire Islanders team to win the game in overtime.


Finally, highlights of Hamrlik's time with both Calgary and Montreal, set to the typical YouTube soundtrack. No penalty points for turning your speakers off.

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