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Lightning players celebrate Movember in support of coach battling cancer

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Just as teammate Martin St. Louis disproved the long-time NHL theory that size matters, Lightning center Nate Thompson is working diligently to restore truth to that notion......with his mustache.

    “Movember,” the NHL’s league-wide initiative which began November 1, encourages players on all 30 teams to sport facial hair on the upper lip throughout the entire month of November to raise funds and awareness on behalf of all men’s health issues, primarily prostate cancer.

    Always a jovial place, the situation inside the Lightning locker room has gotten a little more “hairy” in recent days, as Thompson and several teammates including Brett Clark, Teddy Purcell, Dominic Moore and Adam Hall have each dumped their razors with as much ease as they do pucks behind the blue line to join in the fight.

    This season in particular though, the campaign hits much closer to home for the organization’s players, coaches, team staff and employees alike, as assistant coach Wayne Fleming remains some 2,700 miles away recovering from brain cancer at his home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    “It’s something we always have fun with every year and it’s always important to support a worthy cause,” Thompson said. “I think everyone is on board and I know for sure it definitely goes a long way.”

    “You know, it’s a league-wide cause that the NHL has been supporting for a few years now, but this season we wanted to make it more about our team out of respect for Wayne,” Purcell added. “We really wanted him to know the support we have for him and how much we appreciate everything he did. We think we work hard every day, but honestly we have no idea the battle he and his family are going through. It really puts things in perspective.”

    Once one enters the locker room, however, one’s perspective of how each Lightning player is viewed can often become skewed due to the drastic change in appearance a mustache can cause to one’s face.

    Thompson’s goal is get his to come in “real dark and thick.”

    Matt Gilroy expressed he had no plans for his except to “just let it go and see what happens.”

    However unappealing, the mustache never fails to pay “lip service” to team unity, whether it’s in support of a cause as worthy as the current initiative or merely a superstitious display of what many Lightning players hope to turn into playoff beards come late April.

    Yet, limiting the blades to the ice and not one’s face serves as no easy task.

    “I’m doing my best to keep it under control,” Clark said. “I want to try and keep it presentable for a crowd.”

    While Clark would likely benefit from the occasional trim, Moore had other plans for what has transformed the locker room in recent weeks into a chic and exclusive club.

    “The key is to get a lot of good coverage,” the Bolts forward said. “I’m going to let mine grow all over, then when it’s long and thick, you can trim it down and shape it into the style you want. I might even add a touch of gray. You know, to keep things sophisticated.”

    With two full weeks under their belts, the Lightning’s motley crew of ‘stache-donning stars have seemingly put as much thought into what style to adopt as they have into each other’s next shootout move.

    Thompson and Hall seem to prefer the fu Manchu, while Purcell expressed interest in “just keeping things traditional.” Gilroy said he would just let his go. Several entertained the thought of the pencil-thin style, and even channeled Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers for a moment in regards to the wildly unpopular handlebar look.

    In fact, most of the Bolts were on point when asked to name some famous ‘stache wearers they most heavily admired.

    Of course, there was the occasional suggestion that didn’t quite fit the mold.

    With absolutely no regard to the most common responses of say, Tom Selleck, or even former NHL stars Lanny McDonald or Dirk Graham, Ryan Shannon dipped into the realm of both the random and the bizarre to come up with none other than “the Pringles guy.”

    No matter how unfavorable the look or unwavering the responses, one thing was certainly agreed upon.

    “It’s a small sacrifice,” Purcell added. “It raises money for a good cause and also awareness throughout the community, so it was a pretty easy decision. I think all the guys, myself included, have a lot of fun with it.”

    Fans are encouraged to join in the fun, while also supporting a worthy cause, by submitting pictures of their own mustaches to the Lightning’s official Facebook page or by visiting . Those interested in learning more about Movember or making a general donation can also visit

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