Category Archives: Sports

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

A note on Tampa Bay sports and the playoffs

Though it literally does not play out like this:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the playoffs on average less than once every four seasons of play. I’ve already pointed out the Bucs annual win percentage is abysmal and this just illustrates the club has only made the playoffs 10 times in 41 years of existence.

In contrast, the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the NHL playoffs once every two-and-a-half seasons or so… Well, that is if they make the playoffs this season and to say that’s highly likely is an understatement. As of this writing the Bolts have 94 points on the season and lead the league. If things stand pat and the Lightning make the playoffs, it’ll be the 10th time it’s been done in 25 years of existence and 24 seasons of play (remember the 2004-05 Nil season was entirely wiped out due to lockout).

I was simply going to share this among friends, hammering home the once-every-four-years vs. once-every-two-and-a-half stat but I felt like I’m being cruel to leave out the Tampa Bay Rays. This will be Tampa Bay’s Major League Baseball team’s 20th season of play (only 5 seasons younger than the Lightning) and it’s notable that the Rays post-season faring is more comparable to the Buccaneers than the Lightning: In 19 completed season of play, the Rays have only made the playoffs four times (2008, the team’s 10th anniversary season, was the first time the club ever went to the playoffs).

As awful as that looks, there’s a defense for the Rays compared to the Buccaneers or lightning for that matter: MLB’s playoff system is a much tighter beast than the NFL and NHL. The league only started using wild cards (single slots in each league) in 1994. It was expanded to two in 2012.

At any rate, unless the Lightning suffers a grand disaster of play to close the 2017-18 season (and there are only 16 games remaining for them), they’ll tie the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in all-time playoff berths. The Rays won’t be coming close anytime soon, if ever, with thanks in part going toward the differences in schedule and playoff formatting between the three pro sports leagues.

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Filed under baseball, football, hockey, Tampa Bay Lightning

The idea of politics and the NHL cross paths

Russia. Collusion. Obstruction of justice. “Act of War”. You can’t dismiss this stuff and it’s still coming to fruition through Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as House Intelligence committee hearings and such. Perhaps you look past this or perhaps you turn away from politics in general; there are other things in this world worth attention that aren’t the complication of politics and the riff-raff of the them-vs.-us partisan fray.

Sports are a relief. In one case, though, a sport is in unstated “what-if?” territory. Continue reading

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NHL player frustration mounts from officiating inconsistency

It’s silly season in the NHL, where fights are going to be more common along with outlandishness on ice and off. Yet there’s been a consistent issue on-ice of outlandishness that has baffled players: Officiating and rule enforcement. Continue reading

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A Tampa Bay Lightning ramble by the original Lightning blogger

I made a name and reputation for myself with 12-and-a-half years of blogging about the Tampa Bay Lightning. I was a pioneer in hockey blogging in general (starting what will be fourteen years ago in a matter of days). Want proof? I’d send you to the archives of Raw Charge but SB Nation complicates the process (read: I’d send you to my profile alone but they don’t list all the articles, Fan Posts and Fan Shots that I’ve posted).

Have I stopped following hockey or the Lightning? Hell no! Continue reading

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Filed under Boltsmag, hockey, Raw Charge, Tampa Bay Lightning

Of Tampa Bay sports and media focus

I’ve been put off since last week while scanning headlines and online coverage of news in the Tampa Bay area and seeing a greater-than-usual focus put on the Gasparilla Pirate Festival than usual, while the marquee mid-season event of the NHL All-Star Weekend was an afterthought (or a complication to Gasparilla festivities). It felt almost like the NHL and Tampa Bay Lightning are afterthoughts.

In fact, disappointment and issues with the Bucs holding the headlines in the fall of 2017 and through the early weeks of 2018 have taken away notice to casual readers of local headlines online than the Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t just been playing games, but have been (and this will floor you) winning. Continue reading

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Filed under football, hockey, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

Poll: Pro sport championship trophy relevance

Running for the next seven days on Twitter — which of these four championship trophies in North American sports is the least relevant to fans?

Retweets are appreciated…as is voting!

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by | January 25, 2018 · 9:35 AM

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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Filed under hockey, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

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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