The Tampa Bay Lightning brought the Bolts Nation to their feet as they paid tribute to their much-loved former goaltender Ben Bishop on Thursday night.
Players come and go in the National Hockey League; some make a serious impact on the game while others simply fade into oblivion. It is rare when you find a player who truly makes their way into the hearts of their fans and takes up permanent residence. One of those players made their return to the Amalie Arena last night.
Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning swung open the doors to the Amalie Arena in anticipation of a long-awaited battle between the Bolts and the Dallas Stars. Between the pipes for the Dallas Stars was none other than former Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.
We’ll get the unhappy stuff out of the way first. As most Lightning fans know by now, the Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman elected to trade Ben Bishop, along with a 5th Round Pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Peter Budaj, defenseman Erik Cernak, as well as a 7th Round Pick and a Conditional Pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
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It’s pretty safe to say a good portion of the Bolts Nation didn’t respond well to the news their beloved goaltender would be heading to a new team right as the final push at the end of the season was kicking into high gear. Alas, the reality of the situation is something they would have to come to terms with rather quickly.
Given the way the fans feel about Bishop and everything he did to better the team and the community while he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, it only seemed fitting they pay tribute to the 30-year-old netminder as he made his way back to his adoptive home for the first time since being traded.
Needless to say, there was no shortage of highlights for the Lightning to feature in their video package. The video tribute took a look at some of those aforementioned highlights as well as offered up a heartfelt Thank You to Bishop for the dedication he showed to the Lightning, the fans, and the community.
Thank you, Bish. For everything. For always. 💙 pic.twitter.com/rvg1XMbe2s
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) November 17, 2017
It was plain to see from the expression on Bishop’s face he was touched by the Lightning’s tribute as well as the roaring response from the fans at the conclusion of the video package. Judging his body language following the tribute, Bishop never intended on leaving his home in the Bolts Nation.
Ben Bishop may no longer be a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, but his presence is still very much felt here in the Bolts Nation. Bishop continues to hold many franchise records here in Tampa Bay. One of which is the number of wins in a Lightning sweater.
Bishop leads all present and former Lightning goaltenders in wins, having brought home 131 wins in his 227 games between the pipes for the Bolts. Big Ben’s nearest competition comes off the goalie stick of Stanley Cup Champion goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who brought home 83 victories over his time in Tampa.
Ben Bishop also holds the franchise record for shutouts, having posted 17 over the course of his career with the Lightning. At the risk of creating a serious case of déjà vu, Bishop’s closest competition once again comes from former Lightning netminder Nikolai Khabibulin.
Bishop’s final all-time franchise record is his Goals Against Average. No. 30 held down a 2.28 Goals Against Average in his time with the Bolts, once again followed by who…Nikolai Khabibulin. We’re starting to sense a trend here, how about you?
Big Ben holds a couple of single-season records with the Tampa Bay Lightning as well. In the 2015-16 season, Bishop set the standard in terms of Goals Against Average with a stellar 2.06. In the 2013-14 season, Bishop would set the record for single-season wins with 37. Just one season later, Bishop would set the bar a little higher with a single-season total of 40 wins.
Needless to say, Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy has some pretty big skates to fill as the No. 1 goaltender. The good news is, he spent plenty of time working side-by-side with Bishop, and Vasilevskiy has really stepped up to the plate since taking the reins.
For the fans here in the Bolts Nation, this is not farewell. Rather it is until we see you again. Ben Bishop will always hold a spot in the hearts of Lightning fans. While he may wear a different jersey now, he will always be remembered as one of the best Lightning goaltenders in franchise history. Thanks for the memories, Bish!