The All-Star break is upon us already. Let’s take a look back into Lightning history at our first All-Star:
A STAR IS BORN: Born on January 21, 1965 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, was a baby boy who 27 years later would be on The Tampa Bay Lightning’s inaugural team
and become my all time favorite NHLer. Brian Richard Walter Bradley. 5’10″ 180lbs Position: Center, right shot. He played for the OHL’s London Knights for 3
seasons, totaling 295 pts. In 1983 he was drafted 51st overall in the 3rd round by The Calgary Flames. He remained in the OHL for development and in 1985 he
averaged 2pts a game, taking the Kings to a gold medal in the The Junior World Championship. Making his NHL debue in 1985-86 season, he divided the season
with The Moncton Golden Flames, Calgary’s minor league team, where he was linemates with Brett Hull. Brian took a year of apprenticeship with
David King, determined to break through the barrier of concern over his strength and size and play full time for Calgary in the upcoming 1987-88 season.
Under King, he played for The National Canadian Men’s Team. He had the honor of playing in the 1988 Olypics, which happened to be in Calgary. However he
returned to The Flames full of hope in 1988 to find out that he’d been traded to The Vancouver Canucks. There he tied Rookie Trever Linden’s record of 7pts
in 7 games during the 1989 play-offs. That year he was voted the “Most Exciting Player” by the fans. In 1991 he was traded to The Toronto Maple Leafs.
FROM ICE TO PARADISE: After a life and career in snowy Canada, Brian Bradley became Sunny Florida’s 1st hockey Super Star. The Tampa Bay Lightning aquired
him in the 1992 NHL Expansion Draft. He scored The Lightning’s first ever pre-season goal against The Minnesota North Stars. Tampa’s anaugural season proved
to be what he needed as he had his personal career high, leading the team with 42 goals and 86pts. Also in 1992 he made his first NHL All-Star appearence.
He was also in the 1995 All-Star game. In the 1995-96 season, The Lightning made their play-off debut. Brian had 56 assists that year, another personal
career high. Then there was controversy over a wrist injury that Brian suffered and took a while to recover from. Some players questioned his committment to
The Lightning and his heart. Dino Ciccarelli publically critisized Brian and sparked an open war in newspapers. The tension was thick in the locker room.
The team, and it’s reputation, was suffering the stress of the situation. Rumors flew of how both Ciccarelli and Bradley were to be traded. In the end, to
many fan’s relief, the organization got rid of Dino and kept the true heart of the team, Brian. (I remember this time. I was in high school. I had, still have,
the upmost respect for him. I never once questioned his heart or his committment.) Tragedy hit Tampa bay when our Beloved All-Star returned to the ice, only
to be injured again, this time, with a very serious concussion that would become the plague that ended his career by forcing an early retirement. As an
original member of The Tampa Bay Lightning, he was in the first ever face-off and scored the first ever goal in the team’s shiny new facility, The Ice Palace.
Now called The Tampa Bay Times Forum, where they still play. On December 23, 1999, Brian Bradley retired because of chronic injuries, including post concussion
syndrome. He retired as the all-time leader in goals, 111, assists, 189, and points, 300. He played a total of 651 NHL games, 182 goals, and 321 assists for
a total of 503 points.
RETIREMENT? WHAT RETIREMENT? Brian Bradley still resides in Tampa Bay. He makes frequent appearences on Sun Sports Television, the network that airs The
Lightning’s regular season games. He is still affiliated with The Tampa Bay Lightning. He currently serves as Director of Youth and Community Relations. He
takes part in the annual Florida High School Hockey Association Brian Bradley Scholarship to help a local youth with their college dreams. He works with many
high school and youth teams in the area, and organizes community events, which include a Lightning Fantasy camp where amatuer players learn from Lighting
coaches and alumni life as a pro. It was at one of these youth events, The Lightning Summer camp, where I had the true honor of meeting my favorite hockey
legend for the first time since the 1990′s. For almost a week I watched him with the kids on the ice. Everything from coaching and teaching to pinging the kids with tennis balls and making
hilarious faces playing with them when they threw the balls back at him in retaliation. He is great with kids and takes the time to talk with and build
relationships with his fans. As one, this means a lot. I became a hockey fan in 1992 when Phil Esposito introduced it to us with the expansion of The Tampa
Bay Lightning. In that same year I became a Brian Bradley fan. I have always had and will always have amazing respect for this true hockey legend, Tampa Bay’s
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