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