Roman Hamrlik, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first-ever draft pick, is retiring after 20 seasons in the NHL, according to media reports in Europe.
The Czech defenseman, a three-time NHL All-Star, was expected to make an announced this week in Montreal.
Hamrlik, 38, was the first overall pick for the expansion Lightning in the 1992 NHL entry draft. He played six seasons in Tampa Bay, posting a career-high 16 goals and 65 points in 1995-96, when the Bolts reached the postseason for the first time.
He was traded to Edmonton in 1997 and went on to play for five other teams — the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadians, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.
In January, as a member of the Capitals, Hamrlik took part in a ceremony at the Forum honoring the Lightning’s 20th anniversary.
The Lightning played their first season at Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Hamrlik said he couldn’t believe two decades had passed since Tampa Bay players arrived for games with fishing poles in their equipment bag to take advantage of a bass pond behind the 10,000-seat arena.
“The time has gone really fast,’’ Hamrlik said. “The franchise was really new here when I started. This team won a Stanley Cup a couple years ago and became a really good hockey city. I have really good memories of this team. It was a thrill to get a chance here to start my career.”