Category Archives: Sports

Covering the pro sports world in oh-so-many words.

The idea of hockey players from Tampa Bay

Some of the history of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey was touched on with my endorsement and love shown in the Vincent Lecavalier piece last week. The seed that Phil Esposito planted has taken firm root in Tampa Bay as the true forefather of hockey in non-traditional markets. Yeah, the Atlanta Flames preceded the Bolts, but the franchise did not take root and relocated to Calgary, Alberta.

Tampa Bay really was at the forefront of a southern surge through expansion and relocation – the Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, and Atlanta Thrashers (who ended up relocating to Winnipeg) and the neophyte Vegas Golden Knight.

This didn’t all come by way of Tampa Bay’s success – pro sports is a business; true expansion is to go to an untapped market – but the Lightning were at the start of it all. Starting play in a new markets, new exposure to the game to the youth of the region.

Now here’s question that coincides this: What is Tampa Bay’s best produced hockey player? Continue reading

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The grand and heighest; the feats achieved for Tampa Bay by Vincent Lecavalier

Grand Marshal“, why does that seem such a fitting title for Vincent Lecavalier who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning 1st overall in the 1998 NHL Draft, ventured through the hell of a lost franchise, the warfare of conflict with John Tortorella (and calm bestowed upon the pair by Jay Feaster), and has his name immortalized on the Chalice of Lord Stanley with his colleagues and companions from the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning roster?

Vinny rules. He was…no, no, wait, wait; he is. He is Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. While Roman Hamrlik was draft pick Numero Uno for the hockey franchise bestowed upon Phil Esposito and the Tampa/St. Petersburg Metroplex, while Chris Gratton and Jason Weimer were early standard-bearers along with Hammer. They didn’t last in Tampa. They didn’t develop fully and top out with the Bolts (or, arguably at all). Everyone that came to the Lightning between 1992 and 1997 just came and went. They served, they left a mark.

The ones who went deepest in the psyche of the fledgling market did not come by way of the draft or having developed with or through Tampa Bay. That is not trying to write off long-time alumni and early stars of this club like Brian Bradley or Darren Puppa, Rob Zamuner or Alex Selivanov. They gave us a taste of what was to come. They let us feel it and revel in it – Tampa Bay Lightning hockey and being a competitive force in the NHL and drawing us to the game. The 1996 NHL playoffs was a glimpse of what was to come.

Lecavalier helped show us what is an what can be. Continue reading

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An annual Tampa Bay festival to coincide the NHL All-Star invasion

Happy New Year to one and all. May 2018 be an annum of achievement and positive happenings for you and yours.

A little note to precede the National Hockey League’s 2018 NHL All-Star weekend for those attending as out-of-town fans and those exposed to the event through national media covering things in Tampa:

There’s an annual event that goes down in Tampa each year, it’s not an official marking of the start of tourist season in town but it tends to coincide it and can be tied to marquee events happening in town like the NFL’s Super Bowl when it’s played at Raymond James Stadium or, say, the NHL holding its All-Star game.

In this event, a flotilla of ships, led by a pirate ship known as the José Gaspar, will cruise around the waters of the Port of Tampa before “invading” downtown Tampa to mark the official start of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. It’s usually high level execs and political people playing the role of pirate aboard the José Gaspar (or aboard their own ships hanging out with those on the pirate boat) before they land in downtown Tampa and are given control of the city by the mayor of Tampa.

Gasparilla is many events strewn out for a few weeks of time, but it’s the flotilla and pirate invasion that is the visible event that can catch the attention. There’s also a parade event through the Tampa city streets in the early afternoon.

So, what gives with a blog post on New Years Day about it, and why aim the attention at NHL fans?

Everything with the invasion event scheduled for Saturday, January 27th. That’ll be the day of coverage of the NHL Skills Competition, alumni game and all the other  lead-in events preceding Sunday, January 28th‘s NHL All-Star game. I wouldn’t be surprised if some pirate shenanigans are caught on film by visiting media – especially TSN or RDS. Hell, it wouldn’t shock me if NHL All-Stars and alumni find their way into the event as members of the invasion and parade (paging Alex Ovechkin, Mr. Alex Ovechkin…). If you’re scheduled to be in the Tampa Bay area for the weekend, you may want to look into events tied to the Saturday morning invasion antics in and around downtown Tampa…well, unless they conflict with events at Amalie Arena or directly tied to the All-Star weekend you’d rather attend.

For information on Gasparilla check the official site. For history on the festival and other info, I point you to Wikipedia.

Update (January 2nd at 2PM): Well, the NHL taste of the Gasparilla Festival event has taken on a taste. The Grand Marshall of the shindig was announced this afternoon by Ye Mystic Krewe, the organizers, governing crew and swabs, mates, and brooding Pirates of the José Gaspar: Former NHL center and Tampa Bay Lightning alumnus Vincent Lecavalier.

From the press release, quotes from the Krewe and Vinny:

“Vinny Lecavalier was the perfect choice as our Grand Marshal this year as we host the NHL All-Star Weekend in Tampa” said Christopher Lykes, Captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. “Vinny was a force with the Lightning and a force as an NHL All-Star. He has continued his leadership by being an active and positive role model in our Community” added Lykes.

“I am honored and grateful to Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla for selecting me to be the Grand Marshal of the 2018 Pirate Fest and Parade, especially at a time when the Lightning will be hosting the All-Star Game in our community,” said Lecavalier. “Tampa Bay is a special place with great traditions and the Lightning and Gasparilla are two of them. I look forward to representing both with pride in the parade.”

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Change and lack-there-of behind the bench in the NHL so far in 2017-18

It’s mid-December in 2017, just shy of the true middle of the 2017-18 season and there’s a noteworthy lacking going on. Oh, it is an on-ice failing but it’s not a singular player statistic or performance. It’s team unction and wins and losses. And inaction by the management and ownership of any NHL franchise.

There’s a lingering story around the league about poor play and it’s coming from a variety of clubs:

  • The abyss that is the Buffalo Sabres keeps treading in the murk of the NHL standings as it has for too long now. They have only 23 points in 33 games played as of this writing.
  • Discontent from fans and mediocrity from the teams stymies the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers.
  • Rick Tocchet may get a pass by way of it being his first season as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes but the team is truly in the cellar with only 7 wins and 19 points total.

The Metro Division is a neck-and-neck race (with six points being the difference between first place (New Jersey Devils) and last (Carolina Hurricanes).

Suffice it to say, I’m shocked we haven’t seen the axe fall somewhere and a coach get dismissed for mediocrity or an abominable performance by his club. Continue reading

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What is time’s tale of Tampacuse with Lightning and Crunch fans?

 

The intention here was to write a blog post leading in to this poll regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning / Syracuse Crunch affiliation. The lead-in got sidetracked on major league/minor league (IHL and NHL) affiliations for the Bolts and gets too far away from the simple poll question I have for the faithful from both clubs:

After 5 years of affiliation, what is your opinion of the Tampacuse partnership?

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It’s been five years now since Tampa Bay and Syracuse teamed up. Some may see nothing from the pairing as only one team matters — the one you’re exposed to. Others know there’s importance to the development pipeline but won’t necessarily agree that the affiliates matter as-so-much as how the organization overall handles operations at the player-personnel level.

Whatever the case, what say you? Are you happy or discontent with the Tampa Bay / Syracuse affiliation? Vote!

By the way, the title of this post seems a little awkward but “time’s tale” basically summarizes the length of the affiliation and the events (ya know, games, player movement, what not) with the clubs.

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Three noteworth Reddit groups for hockey and sports fans

Reddit isn’t just a message board. It’s also not a dump-all marketing destination either. As a long time blogger, I didn’t deliberately try to mine traffic from Reddit because I didn’t want to be the one who posted any of my written-content from my days at Raw Charge on major subreddits. That’s ethics, though. I’ve turned that around in my time moderating on a subreddit devoted to hockey blogs. The subreddit /r/HockeyWriters is devoted to what is basically blog content and hockey authors. I’ve been the one (by way of content submissions from around the hockey blogosphere) to give the group some life.

Yet I can’t do it all. By that I mean I can’t be expected to post everything on the group. Continue reading

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Thoughts on the civil protests by sports and entertainment figures

Some see it as just a cry for attention. Others see it as a defilement of a national symbol and the country itself. Some don’t have the curiosity of what had led to many NFL players (and other athletes in other sports leagues, later musicians and entertainers) to take a knee during the US National Anthem. Why be “disrespectful” to what’s been engraved on American society as a sign of love and dedication to the stars and the bars and the country it represents? Why have these people, in the highly public places of their respective careers, seemingly insulted the men and women of the US military who have fought for and died for the country? If there is a cry for attention through the act, that attention is to be aimed at the questions. Continue reading

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Filed under Entertainment Industry Thingies, Politics, Sports

Q and A with Calgary Flames blogger Kent Wilson of FlamesNation

I got Kent Wilson from FlamesNation to participate in the hockey blogger Q and A that I’ve been casually conducting this month. Kent’s one of the strengths of The Nation Network and blogging in general, having his hand in the 2014 “summer of stats”.

What follows is a little insight in how Kent found his way into blogging and his views on the season ahead for the NHL.

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A hockey blogging Q and A with Ken Boehlke from SinBin.Vegas

It is a season for beginnings, and I don’t just mean the rookie class of 2017-18 (that’s a yet-to-truly-know brood; it’ll clarify in the weeks to come) but the franchise class of 2017-18.

The birth of the Vegas Golden Knights is also the birth of professional sports in Las Vegas, Nevada (being the first major-league team in Sin City, USA) and so far the population has been quite receptive of what is yet to come. Ticket sales revenue is ahead of other franchises — 20 of’em –  and you can find all sorts of excitement and interest on the start of Golden Knight hockey.

Ken Boehlke of SinBin.Vegas has been covering the forthcoming franchise  it was a sought-after commodity for Las Vegas (his start will  be exactly 2 years ago on August 26th).  Below you’ll find his odds and ends and opinions regarding writing, the league, and  more.

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A hockey blogger Q and A with Lyle Richardson of Spectors Hockey

One of the routine areas that draws fans to the web to find out what they can are rumors. Some are made up, some are hearsay, some are those casually expressed “I’m hearing…” remarks that you see on Twitter from major members of hockey coverage.

The man at the blogging level who made a name for himself and found a firm niche in covering reports on potential player movement in the NHL is Lyle Richardson of Spectors Hockey, who you likely have also seen on such sources as Fox Sports and Bleacher Report among others.

Richadson is another one of the forefathers of the hockey blogosphere, starting around 2003. Want proof? I reposted this article for him during the NHL lockout of 2005, having originally run in November 2003.

While there are a lot of questions still to be had about player movement and eery franchise in the league, the questions are a mix about the man,  blogging, and guys named “Joe” and “Jaromir”.

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A hockey blogger Q and A with Laura Astorian of St. Louis Game Time

Continuing the Q & A series that was unveiled Wednesday, another of hockey bloggings assetss chimes in on life in covering not one but two teams in her blogging career. Laura Astorian, who has been a void of both the St. Louis Blues and the Atlanta Thrashers. It’s one thing to cover multiple teams in one town, but to stand up and show love by way over coverage for two teams in the same sport at one time is a hell of an accomplishment.

Laura currently runs St. Louis Game Time on SB Nation (which is also a game-day publication for Blues games; that is done by Brad Lee). She’s a great follow on Twitter too for take on the sport, the entertainment industry and what not.

What does Laura think about the NHL’s plan to forgo the 2018 winter Olympics? What tips does she have for those who want to get into blogging? Read below.

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A hockey blogger Q and A with J.P. of Japers Rink

While I pour over headlines of the hockey blog universe on a daily basis, I’ve been noticing something missing in the summer of 2017 that usually runs as an ongoing series in the hockey blogosphere: question-and-answer sessions that don’t just run the course of talking about other teams, but illustrate networking in blogdom.

Today I’m (hopefully) starting a series of Q & A interviews with some of the hockey blogosphere’s top members. The questions aren’t locked-on-the-franchise talk but touches on blogging as well as the wider NHL with some points that often play out in regular discussions that have been prominent this summer  among idle fans.

This introduction interview is with Jon “J.P” Press, founder of Washington Capitals blog Japers RInk.  Jon has been at his game as a hockey blogger since the 2004-05 NHL lockout. That idle time was pretty tough for fans to live through, and yet it gave birth to known members of the blogging universe as well as the mainstream media.

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Best of the Bay and the Bolts for 2017

I may have touched on this Best of the Bay thingie while talking about music (sweet music…music everywhere) but the topic of note is the one that my name is usually linked to: The Tampa Bay Lightning. Creative Loafing’s 2017 reader poll doesn’t lack nor neglect notable aspects of the Bolts – directly or indirectly – which sets the table for Lightning fans to show support for cogs they know regarding the club.

Mind you, there may be more nominated aspects and assets with ties to the franchise (Amalie Arena, or perhaps a locale within the arena). What’s being cited here is from the section called People, Places, Politics which features categories pertaining to public figures, locations and sports. Continue reading

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Filed under Raw Charge, Sports, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

Topsy Tourney; Thoughts on hockey and the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics

In a way, ice hockey can be much like soccer/futbol. Oh, I’m not comparing playing on an ice sheet to playing on a huge field of grass, nor players wearing a ton of gear to men in shorts and shirts and somewhat-regular shoes. It’s the fact there are so many tournaments of an international variety that come in to play at all levels of the game that is the similarity. Some are annual, some are vastly irregular and others are on a regular schedule a few years apart… Like the Olympics.

The Olympic games are just a variant of grandiose sport-specific tournaments like the World Cup in Soccer which is played ever four years.  I’ll cite the World Junior Championships in hockey, which is an annual tournament of junior-aged players (upper-teens to 20 years old) doing battle, country versus country. There’s also the World Championships which is a toned-down general hockey championship that utilizes players that aren’t involved in the playoffs in pro leagues around the world and those who don’t have to rest and recuperate from a trying season in their respective leagues.

The World Cup of Hockey is an irregular tournament of national teams played in late summer or early fall which can amount to preseason action for the big name talents from around the globe (though that’s not entirely true – the Euro leagues have started by this point while the NHL is in preseason mode). The irregularity sort of dims this and a thin history doesn’t do it any favors either.

And then there are the Olympics… Continue reading

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Tweeting an NHL-related poll

The timing may seem a little odd to do this now as we are in the middle of the summer doldrums of the NHL and ice hockey in general, but this afternoon I’ve posted a little poll on Twitter asking  public opinion on coverage and broadcasting of the NHL on NBC Sports:

I’ve already posted this summer with a negative opinion about a certain personality of NBCSN, and I made him a key figure when criticizing the network in the past. I’ve toyed with writing a new article regarding the network but that seems like a useless feat if general opinion of their on-air hockey experience is taken in a postie way.

The poll will be open until Monday, July 31, 2017. Vote, and perhaps retweet things.

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