Lance Pitlick is a product of Minnesota's highly organized youth hockey system. He skated for Cooper-Minnesota High School as a standout before attending the University of Minnesota for four seasons. From the moment he stepped onto the ice for the Gophers, he had already been selected 180th overall in the 1986 Entry Draft by the Minnesota North Stars.
But Pitlick preferred to complete his education before proceeding to the pro ranks. Upon his graduation in 1990, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers who promptly initiated his apprenticeship in the AHL with the Hershey Bears.
Pitlick toiled as a minor leaguer until the Ottawa Senators signed him as a free agent in 1994. They too sent him to the minors for a spell before finally giving him a shot as the stay-at-home insurance the Sens required for their young blueline corps. His start was slow, but by 1996, he finally achieved full-time NHL status.
Pitlick was well suited in tandem with rookie defenders such as Patrick Traverse. His steady, non-flashy style was the perfect nerve tonic for the younger members of the club. He was the kind of defender who did the simple and subtle things over and over, never taking chances.
He remained with the Senators until 1999 when he flew south to join the Florida Panthers where he continues to provide on-ice tutoring for blueline youth.