Wednesday was a tough night for hockey fans in Tampa.
Now that the dust has settled – or is it frost – we want to say thank you to the Lightning for a wonderful season. We are fortunate to have such an amazing sports franchise in our home town.
Yes, it would have been better to win the Stanley Cup again – obviously. However, let us take stock of what we have in our Bolts.
It was only two decades ago that the franchise was mired in mediocre play, existed in a sun-par stadium, and was featured in a Forbes Magazine article as a financial nightmare.
No one wanted to buy the team, no one wanted to play for the team, and no one wanted to watch the team.
The darkness deepened into possibly one the worst sports debacles after it was sold in 1998.
Those were dark days surrounding the Lightning.
And then the sun broke through (is that good or bad for lightning?). Anew ownership team led to a rebuilding process. That process produced a Stanley Cup in 2004.
Many measure success in athletics solely upon championships. While there is obvious validity in that thought, there is more to truly great franchises. The way in which the community feels about a team is equally if not more important. A truly great franchise cultivates community through supporting local charities and sponsoring projects. Greatness is sustained by how the ownership values not only players, but fans most especially. We have that in this team.
Under the ownership of Jeffery Vinik the team has been recognized as one the best franchises not just in the National Hockey League, but in all professional sports.
Looking back at where we were and recognizing how good the Lightning are now, not just in terms of hockey, but also for what they offer the fans and community, we are thankful to have such an incredible team like the Lightning in our home of Tampa.
It was a great season. Thank you Bolts for all the excitement and your commitment to excellence. Tonight we light a Tabanero Bocado in your honor and invite all the Bolts fans to come down and celebrate with us.
Here is to a great season this year and the expectation of another amazing one next year!