TAMPA, Fla. -- Dan Gitzler is not just a Tampa Bay Lightning fan but a hockey fan in general.
When the Sarasota man's faith in the sport was jarred by a recent tragedy, Gitzler knew he had to do something to honor the victims.
Gitzler bought a Lightning sweater and got “Humboldt” stitched on the back. The number? 16, of course.
“Sixteen is kind of a sacred number in hockey,” Gitzler says. “16 lost souls, 16 teams in the playoffs, 16 wins to get the [Stanley] Cup.”
He wore the Humboldt Jersey to the Bolts’ opening playoff game against the New Jersey Devils at Amalie Arena.
“I got a lot of high-fives, a lot of pictures, a lot of thank yous,” Gitzler says. “I decided to find volunteers to wear that jersey to as many playoff games as possible.”
The legend of the Humboldt Jersey has since taken off.
Gitzler first began by having Lightning players autograph the jersey. He is hoping more NHL stars will sign it.
A fan named Rebecca volunteered to wear the sweater up to New Jersey for Games 3 and 4.
— HUMBOLDT JERSEY (@HumboldtJersey) April 17, 2018
More volunteers are wanted. More autographs, too.
Gitzler wants the jersey to travel for as long as his beloved Lightning last in the postseason.
And when it is all over, hopefully with the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisting the Stanley Cup, he plans to frame the Humboldt Jersey and send it north to the families of the Humboldt Broncos in a show of love and support for those dealing with so much hurt.
“Hockey is a community,” Gitzler says. “We always look out for each other and always take care of each other.”
To follow the journey of the Humboldt Jersey on Twitter, visit @HumboldtJersey.