Covering the pro sports world in oh-so-many words.
Lord Stanley’s Cup is a reason I loke Hockey
Originally written as part of a larger article in February 2014, I republish the fifth aspect of hockey I like.
The Glory of the Cup
It’s not the NHL title, though it’s bestowed to the champion of the league. Its history goes back beyond the Original Six. Players on this continent and elsewhere in the world are raised to dream about getting possession of it and hoisting it in victory.
Unlike the Lombardi Trophy in the NFL, the O’Brien Trophy in the NBA, the Commissioners Trophy in MLB or the Coaches Trophy in NCAA Division I football, which are all minted for champions individually – for them to own — there is only one Stanley Cup. Unlike the previously named awards, the Stanley Cup carries its legacy and history with it to whomever it is ultimately awarded to – the names etched upon it, the flaws and dents that have their own stories, as do the teams that are named as champions on it.
All trophies can be looked at as over-glorified paperweights in the end, but the Cup is to be drunk from by its winners in celebration. It’s raised over your head in triumph, not foisted around and then stuck in a trophy case to be forgotten about. Every championship in every league the world over is fought for, bled for, scarified for, but this one, the names etched right on the Cup itself show you who has done the same in days of yore; the hockey legends and the bit players from previous championship teams who put everything on the line for that title, who played while hurt or outright infirm.
There is so much hurt, so much anguish, so much emotional strife and insecurity you suffer in your life as a fan, it can haunt you when you’re a fan of a team in a non-traditional market, or one that faces mediocrity on all too regular a basis. But the moment the commissioner tells your team captain to come get his Stanley Cup – all of that is erased. And while you personally aren’t the one who got the Cup, you own that moment and that title just as much as the team that won it all. That’s yours to hold on to until your dying day.
That silver chalice, that’s the most beloved thing that anyone can ever know in this sport.
SB Nation shuts diwmMHL coverage; John Fontana reavts
While this economic climate makes cuts understandable, a network devotes to sports coverage abd too lost in web-design excess needs a revamp at the top level. Fans and dollars estranged by this are just a symptom of a disconnect between staff writers and site managers which contributed to my resignation.
An Old NHL Aggravation Reminder on Tampa Bay’s Anniversary
Just a quick note to Tama Bay Lightning fans as well as to our expansion siblings to the north, the Ottawa Senators: While the 2022-23 season of the NHL is the 30th anniversary of our clubs, it’s technically only our 29th anniversary season. You can blame the NHL and NHL Players Association for that.
The 2004-05 National Hockey League season never happened.
It’s the 30th Ammiversery of 1992-93’s ex]ansion class… Just remember it is one less season of play than it should be. Ultimately You can thank commissioner Gary Bettman and former MJ:PA chief Bob Goodenow for that.
A song for Tampa and Games 3 and 4 of the 2022 Stanley Ci[ Final
It’s debatable how fitting a sound for the city of Tampa Gypsy Star;s “A Night in Tampa” is. It may be a bigger argument when the sport of ice hockey and the Tampa Bay Lightning are involved.
In title and with a grand event involved – in this case, the NHL’s 2022 Stanley Cup Finals – it seems oh-so fitting.
Gypsy Star is not well known. They’ve shown an eclectic range if sound since their 2007, self-toled, debut album. “A Night in Tampa” is a song with a Spanish flare which seems fitting to Tampa and the city’s Spanish elements.
It is not a hockey sound, but that does not mean NHL fans who are into music shouldn’t listen. Hell, would I be posting if O yhought the song was to be dismissed?
The Foley of Late-Season, Cross-Conference Play in the NHL
Such a major contest at the venerable Ice Palace known as Amalie Arena on Saturday night. Late-season play only brings more rival bitterness and tense contests between the sworn enemy likes of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s an annual rite for the National Hockey League to hold contests like that one. Two Conferences are in their last throes of the regular season play, with clubs jockeying for playoff position or respectability (or prime draft slots), and fans get fed healthy doses of games baked fresh in Could-Give-A-Shit-ville.
That’s not a shot at Winnipeg, That’s a shot at the NHL schedule. When results matter the most, cross-conference play, and regular-season contests between Easterm and Western Conference teams should be over.
It’s not rocket science, it’s marketing. Right now is when the Eastern Conference would draw more media and fan attention with Eastern play, likewise for the Western Conference clubs. Gameplay and results now factor in broadly as opportunity is so limited. Add to it how results carry more direct weight — division rivals! – and attendance desire/viewweship (and sis dollar signs) tick up.
This isn’t saying cross-conference play should be ceased in the NHL in full. Nope. What’s needed is for East-vs-West play to be over by or around March 1. Five months of time to play the opposite should work fine.
I realize a schedule is a complex beast as all sorts of events and other sports factor in to venue availability, and those involved in the task of compiling the regular season schedule want to shake things up from time to time (not the same thing year after year)… But cross-conference play is not the gateway to the playoffs. It isn’t an interest-grabbing mechanism most of the time, and there is no solid chance fans are witnessing a forthcoming playoff series; A Stanley Cup Finals to-be. Surely the Lightning game held that weight?? Or was it more likely the New Jersey Devils playing Seattle on Saturday that is a prebiew of things to be? Hmmm… :-p
In simplicity, games matter too much at the end of the regular season to have the contests be against opponents who have no position/status in the conference. Opponents matter in general, but it’s a poor marketing of the league to play games against teams who aren’t more direct opponents in the standings.
A warming reminder in the winter chill of the moment
As an Arctic blast shows the bulk of the North American continent that Winter is in full effect…
…Oitchers and catchers are die to reoirt to their respective facilities in Arizona and Florida in just-less than a month to commence the annual rite of Spring Training.
The Designated Hitter Debate and My Premier as a Cited Source in Sports
Baseball was my introduction to sports as it is and has been for so many Americans. It was also how I first had remarked in a national media publication.
I have grown away from the game for multiple reasons which I’ll spare you. Nevertheless, I’m a National League fan…and don’t like the designated hitter. That hasn’t changed after 23 years in an American League market.
I went so far with my DH disgust as to run a petition website for a few years – Abolish the Designated Hitter from Major League Baseball. That obviously went nowhere.
I don’t remember when I shuttered that site, but before that happened I had a reporter from USA Today contact me, looking for DH remarks, The article wouldn’t run until the Sydney Olympics in la the late baseball season…
So… I did an email exchange and that satisfied the writer. I had no clue as to how my words would be presented.
Right next to one of MLB’s best managers and a part of one of the motor memorable monologues by a major film actor.. How about that.?
“I think there should be the same rule for both (leagues), and I’d vote for cutting the DH. … I think you see more of the total game (in the NL). There are a lot of parts of the game that are really beautiful that you don’t see that often in the AL … a lot of the offensive and defensive things you use to make or stop a single run.”
— Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, who managed Oakland and the Chicago White Sox in the AL.
“I personally am tired of the game being stacked in the batter’s favor. With expansion having diluted pitching talent around the game, you’ve seen run production increase to levels that went through the roof. … (Also), it really gets rid of one of the challenges of baseball — managing the roster during a game. …
“(In the Braves-Mets playoffs of 1999) you saw a chess match between Bobby Cox and Bobby Valentine as they had to manage their batting orders and pitching staffs along with bench players to keep competing. It was artwork and a prime example of how the sport can be a head game.”
— John Fontana, 24, of Palm Harbor, Fla., who has run an anti-DH Web site for five years. (http://abolishthedh.stonegauge.com)Renewing the DH debate, USA Today, 09.06.2004
“Well, I believe in the soul … the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, good Scotch. That the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.”— Crash Davis, fictional minor leaguer played by Kevin Costner in Ron Shelton’s classic baseball movie, Bull Durham.
My remarks may only bring disagreement, but the fact here is holy shit I’ve been quoted for hockey many times since and in many media publications, but my words were never aligned with sport and pop culture might like this. And likely never will be again.
A noteworthy atmosphere for the Stanley Cup Finals
If 2021 Stanley Cup broadcast coverage does not make reference to weather conditions of the moment in the Tampa Bay metroplex, they’re hiding it to avoid claims of bias.
The Lightning Capital of the World is living up to its reputation.
An Open Letter Request to the Tampa Bay Lightning
Please note: note: My apologies for poor spelling and grammar. While I have a reputation for typos, copy-editing with ighly limited vision is a challenge.
To the relevant Department and Personnel og the Tampa Bay Lightning Franchise:
Sirs and Madams, to the relevant Department and Personnel og the Tampa Bay Lightning Franchise:
Sirs and Madams, I have a large request., I state this as a man no longer relevant in coverage of the franchise and it is arguable if I ever did.I was not a press-box resident, nor an employee of a major media entity, though my writings did help found SB Nation’s Raw Chargw which I also ran from March 2009 until October 2016.
This isn’t about me, yet I am an example of the plight I request the franchise’s charitable involvement in.
Sirs and Madams, I suffer from a genetic disease that effects a sliver of a fraction of the population of the United States and the globe. My request is simple (but much more complex than this writing can show): For the Lightning franchise to help research Neurofibromatosis Type 2.
Neurofibromatosis Type 2, or NF2 for short, is not cancer. Its effects are disabling in mobility impairment and robbing patients of hearing by way of Acoustical Neuromas.. In simplicity, nerves grow tumors in highly sensitive areas of the body (brain, spine), leading to impairment or death.
My request is made with youth and future generations in mind. Finding weapons in this battle — or one hell of a netminder to stop this opposition’s charge (how are you, Andrei Vasilevskiy?) – is a necessity. Help from the high is as well, sus this open letter to you.
My one situation is irrelevant, but the same if a smidgen of insight – I’m lucky to be alive at this point in my life. Blind, naturally deaf, loss of sensation/coordination in my hand and mobility-impaired… But still here and gladly. Others eith NF2 were not so fortunate to last until middle age (and I nearky was in that group).
I’m certain that a research arm can be established with USF Health, but I also would not be shocked to hear of a more genetralized research body already out there and charitably funded by the Lightning. While that is to be applauded, a generalized researching project spends more time on medical issues that hit a wide number of people. This is why NF2 is a backburner medical issue: As I already said, NF2 effects only a sliver of a fractionn of the population. Stopping calamities hitting many tajke priority over dilligent work to aid the few.
I’m asking the Lightning organization to make an exception.If a high class pro sports franchise won’t give to fight such a niche malignance, who will?
John “Johnny Fonts” Fontana
P.s. For the sake of sayi g, I kegan blogging about the Lightning in February 2004 while I recovered from a pair of spinal-tumor operations. There was only a scant wreb presence of Lightning fans online with most fan web pages being inactibe since the late 1990s.
Blindness and failing hand prevent me from contributing my voice to the sports world. I miss hockey Iblogging. I miss the Lightning.
A final note: My apologies for poor spelling and grammar. While I have a reputation for typos, copy-editing with limited vision is a challenge.
P.s. For the sake of sayi g, I kegan blogging about the Lightning in February 2004 while I recovered from a pair of spinal-tumor operations. There was only a scant wreb presence of Lightning fans online with most fan web pages being inactive since the late 1990s.
Blindness and failing hand prevent me from contributing my voice to the sports world. I miss hockey Iblogging. I miss the Lightning.
Amalie Arena To Serve As An Early-Voting Locale
As we approach the 2020 U.S. elections, and with issues prominent in America leading to social unrest and greater political division, voting matters. The coronavirus and USPS sabotage complicate things.
A prominent location along the banks of the Garrison Channel at the heart of Tampa, Florida will be open to provide opportunity for Hillsborough County residents to cast a ballot preceding Election Day this November.
The following is the full text of the press release from the Tampa Bay Lightning:
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Announces Partnership with Tampa Bay
Lightning: Amalie Arena to Be Open for Early Voting in 2020
Hillsborough County, FL – Today, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer
announced that Amalie Arena will be open for Early Voting in the 2020 General Election.
With this new site, Hillsborough County voters will now be able to vote in any of 25 Early
Voting sites from October 19 through November 1, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“I’m seeing our community come together in a very powerful way to support this
election,” said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. “The Tampa Bay Lightning is one of
many community partners who are getting involved through voter registration drives,
voter education, poll worker recruitment and more. This is a unique opportunity because
Amalie Arena does not have other scheduled events during the Early Voting period.”
“We are grateful to be able to work with the Supervisor and his office to create another
Early Voting location in Hillsborough County,” said Jeff Vinik, Chairman and Governor of
the Tampa Bay Lightning. “The Lightning share in the community goal of increasing
participation in our elections and we are pleased to offer up Amalie Arena this fall to
those that wish to cast their ballots early.”
The Early Voting period allows voters who want to vote in person to choose the time and
location that is most convenient to them, rather than waiting until Election Day to vote,
when, by law, they must vote in the polling place assigned to their precinct.
This new site provides another option for Vote By Mail voters, as well. During Early Voting,
the elections office sets up curbside tents outside each site for voters who want to drop
off their mail ballot. In-person voting is expected to take longer than usual because of
necessary health and safety precautions, which include limiting the number of people
inside each location, setting things up to allow for social distancing, and continuous
cleaning of equipment and surfaces. Voters who prefer to vote from home can visit
VoteHillsborough.org or call (813) 744-5900 to request a Vote By Mail ballot. The office will begin mailing ballots to requesters on September 24.
The stage is set for a cultural event
In 2014 as I was deeply involved in hockey blogging, I was inspired to write a lengthy piece about cultural events after NY Post hockey beat-writer Larry Brooks made a remark comparing Team USA’s preliminary-round, shootout win over the Russian Federation at the 2014 Winter Olympics to the Lake Placid “Miracle” win by Team USA over the Soviet Union fomc 1980. I saw the remark, that it was Team USA’s biggest win since said-“Miracle”, as asinine in both a competitive and social contest.
Why social? Winter of 1980 was not exactly a bright and shining time in American history. In my w5iteup, I made the sodal comparison with music and the onset of the British Invasion back in February 1964 with the arrival of The Beatles. That winter wasn’t the highest time for the United States either. You can read the full write-up over at Raw Charge. It’s arguable how good a piece it is, but it’s the social/cultural event remarks that make the piece relevant now.
In short, the stage is set for society to be slammed, in a good way, by a pop feat that will lead to change in one fashion or another.
I was a little taken aback by a comment in the 2014 article as someone tried to play up how things weren’t great. Oh, they never are; and Billy Joel / Aerosmith told us this in two classic rock songs. The moment we live in now is different, and vastly so, compared to 2014. In fact, it feels like partisanship and race (and taking issue with Barak Obama by way of it) were integral “issues” at that point, but that should tell you how well my memory is handling reflection on the time. Unemployment hadn’t skyrocketed by way of a mishandled (and now ignored) pandemic, that’s for sure. Racial issues hadn’t grown into a ravenous divide; that has been an issue that’s been growing since the start of the Donald Trump presidency (did you really think his anti-immigrant lust toward Hispanics and Latinos from Mexico and Central America was based on a “threat”?). America sinks on so many global measures and US citizens struggle more and more on the day-to-day…
If only for a moment forget the election, forget the coronavirus, forget the necessary Winds of Change. This nation could use a shot of pep right now. An accomplishment or an event in entertainment/sports that makes us turn away from the dubious infamy that rules 2020 and puts the psyche of America back in pop/sports culture on a united level.
The thing is, if it played out like The Beatles in 1964 or Team USA in 1980, an event in the now would be the onset of far more. The British Invasion was major in music history and the Fab Four alone changed the course of rock and pop music. Likewise, Team USA helped raise the interest and social investment of America in the sport of ice hockey and sus the NHL. Is it the sport of the nation now? No, but that doesn’t change the fact the game’s growth in the US was helped along by Lake Placid.
While we could use the morale boost of an event, that doesn’t mean one is coming (though marketing may say otherwise). Likewise, it’s not necessarily something that would play out in sports, or music, or cinema and other entertainment fields… It’s something that’d make us all look away from the negatives toward a feat that captures the interest and attention of the masses. Something to invest attention in or rally around.
The stage is set for something like that… but can it actually happen? That remains to be seen.
NHL History: Vinny Lecavalier’s “Rough Translation” to Life With The White Bear
I’m happy to see the Tampa Bay Times has resurrected its old articles from its days at sptimes.com… That enables access to the past of online content in the history of %ampa Bay like news features in sports, such as the March 2005 feature by former Times writer Tom Jones.
2005 was par5 5wo or the roiled 2004-05 NHL season. While some players stayed idle an waited for labor resolution between the NHL and NHL Players Association, others went abroad to continue their play in the sport, such as Vincent Lecavelier of Tampa Bay Lightning fame.
I’m also happy to see my Boltsmag write-up about the piece is still alive in the Raw Charge archives. Below is my quoted piece with updated links where needed. I do encourage NHL fans to check out the piece of NHL history by Tom Jones. The following write-up was my personal introduction to the piece.
Life with the White Bear,
by John Fontana
I’ve sometimes wondered if me and Vincent Lecavalier woudl ever meet somewhere or somehow cross paths in life. He’s only a few months younger than I am and when he was drafted and the big hoopla was made about him, I had this premonition that Vinny and I could be friends, could get along, could hang out.
And yet with each day, every season, every interview that I’ve read (not many, because Tampa Bay is not Montréal or Toronto) that link… that kinship that I felt disappeared. Vincent is a big name star, he’s got it all and he’s got confidence… He dates models and he’s an icon in Canada.
And today in the St. Petersburg Times, that link was renewed… That sort of hopeful understanding.
Tom Jones traveled to Kazan and spent time with Vinny. This is all chronicled in a piece called Rough Translation and some of the things that Vincent has gone through in Ak Bars Kazan have made me feel… Well, like someone would understand some of the crap I go through daily being hard of hearing. That lack-of-understanding and such.
But to get off my personal points, this article by Jones chronicles some of the adversity that Vincent has faced in Kazan and how he’s kept a positive attitude. How trying it can be to understand his coach’s rants (Zinetula Bilyaletdinov speaks English but addresses his team in Russian), how not understanding what someone says makes you want to shrink away because you don’t know the translation, and the difficulty just to order a bowl of Oatmeal in Kazan.
And if you are interested in seeing the photos associated with the article (and there are a few), please check out this link.
The Flukish Sgreak or Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Since the 2019 Holiday Season
The Tampa Bay Lightning are having one hell of a “fluke”, eh? That ph4ase is from 2011-12 and the Lightning’s AHL team (Coached by Jon cooper_. Thee remark, tweeted by goaltender Dustin Tokarski, was coined to push the fact the Admirals hockey club had to ignore accolades and keep performing top-level hockey.
Iy worked in the end, the Ads won the AHL championship.
You should be left in awe by what the Bolts are doing — and by the way, that was the 100th win in 140 NHL regular-season games (since the start of the 2018-19 season).. That soort of defies the cat-calling of disappointed fans who wanted Jon Cooper fired because of playoff failings in 2018 (…and 2019). Yes, winning in the regular-season isn’t the same as hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup, but neither is having a pro sports team that competes at the top-level of their sports league repeatedly.
Fans don’t want to settle with success, but it’s also important to keep a level head during success or failings. Show depth. The Bolts are doing that, and thus still succeeding.
One opinion on a minor-league location matter in hockey
This piqued my interest while scanning headlines this morning: The Vegas Golden Knights are considering bringing their AHL affiliate to Las Vegas.
I have a best-interest concern about this and it can be aimed at the act the NHL has long-allowed this and it/s actually on-display with the Golden Knights current AHL affiliation location: Market saturation/franchise conflict.
Before I say another word: Stick tap toward the Golden Knights and the Las Vegas region. This is NOT a market-judgment led remark which too-often I’ve witnessed/dealt with in my time as a fan of a team (Tampa Bay) in a non-traditional market. Las Vegas and the southern Nevada region is growing in sports-culture and ir’s not by way of sports-gambling.
That being said, I take issue with NHL/AHL/ECHL franchises in the same NHL market. While it adds more or the sport in the market, it fails where the NHL has so often done so: In marketing the sport broadly.
In the early and mid 20th Century, it made sense for hockey to have multiple teams in a multitude of leagues in one city as the sport was not capable of being played in places where weather conditions kept ice-surfacing a challenge. Hell, the league was only six franchises until 1967. How many lesser-league affiliates were out and about at that time, I can’t tell you. What I CAN tell you is that cities like Chicago, Toronto, Montréal, Detroit, Philadelphia, and others have and do contain multiple league affiliations over the decades, and while that’s to be expected with amateur teams, having minor-league, pro-affiliates or the local pro team or of out-or-town clubs works against the leagues. Oh, it’ll get turnout in certain markets because of how big the city is and how many people love the game, but how does it grow the game to non-fans or in markets that are non-served he the sport at the pro level? 0t There’s a very large number of minor-league teams in baseball and they are scattered through the US and elsewhere…as long as they don’t play in cities where there are MLB teams. St. Petersburg, Florida, lost its long-time affiliation with the St.Louis Cardinals when the Tampa Bay Rays came to be in 1998. With the minor-league venue, Al Lang Stadium merely blocks away from Tropicana Field, there’s an obvious conflict there. It’s arguable there is still a conflict going on in TB as Rays attendance is porous and affiliates for the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Yankees still reside in the Tampa Bay metroplex…. Those are single-A affiliates, though, which is akin to junior-league hockey. In-market Spring Training residence? Tourism.
While having the home-team of the city put its own minor-league affiliate in its city seems all fine, right and of no conflict, it doesn’t implement the traditional goal of the minors– the quest to get to the big-league town. Why try harder?
I wouldn’t put an AHL team in an NHL market, that’s the point of my opinion. What should the Golden Knights do? Why not explore Reno, Nevada or another city in the mountain-west or southwest? You do want to grow Golden Knight loyalty in Nevada to non-Vegas residents, and the sport of hockey is missing in the town, as is pro-sports in general (Reno, “America’s Biggest Little City”, has 14,000 fewer residents total than St. Pete according to stats via Google – St. Pete, Reno). That boosts the Golden Knights as well as the AHL — to be THE franchise in a populated, non-served sports town.
With technology where it is nd with buildings being capable or hosting the game, hockey shouldn’t be market-saturated as-so-much diverse and widely exposed. It’s a marketing thing and an ongoing fact that there’s a need to “grow the game.”
Jon Cooper’s done better as a Lightning head coach than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all-time
Hockey, specifically the National Hockey League, is not football nor the National Football League. I’m always drawn to compare the two with thanks to the Tampa Bay media going ga-ga over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and holding back all-too-much on Tampa Bay Lightning coverage until the end of the NFL season. To hell with success and competitiveness, Buccaneers uber alles.
Something popped into my head last night after the Lightning’s 1-0 win in Philadelphia to extend their winning s
treak fluke to 10 games: How does the tenure of head coach =Jon cooper compare to the Bucs all-time?
One coach? Compared to 40+ years of gameplay? What the hell leads me to think of something like that? Quite simply, the fact Cooper’s Lightning have made the playoffs five times in his 6 full seasons as head coach (and could be on their way to a sixth berth as the 2019-20 season rolls on) which is half as many berths as the Bucs have all-time.
Coop’s in his seventh full season as head coach (he joined as head coach during the 2013 season and had 17 games), helming Tampa Bay for 553 games as of this writing… That just so happens to be 124 games less than the Bucs have played all-time (677 in 43 seasons); about 82% of the games played. His success in that time dwarfs that of the Bucs: Of the 553 games played, 332 were won. That’s a .600 win percentage (though the common stat used in the NHL is tied to point-percen5ate, which is .619). In 43 seasons in the NFL, the Bucs have won 281 of 677 games played; a .409 win percentage.
While fans cry foul over Coop’s playoff-performances (No title! Bad you!) it’s worth noting he’s coached the Bolrs to the same number of Conference finals (3) and playoff finals (1) in his tenure as the Bucs have done in franchise history. Only three of the Bucs 12 head coaches ever made the playoffs (John McKay, Tony Dungy, and Jon Gruden). Of course, that Lightning has gone into the playoffs with four HCs (Terry Crisp, John Tortorella, Guy Boucher, and Cooper) with eight total coaches.
They are two completely separate sports and there’s no argument against that. It’s still a message of competitiveness and local pride that has to be hammered home: The Tampa Bay Lightning are a force in their league. The Bucs aren’t.
What is the next accomplishment for Cooper and the Lightning? We’ll find out in this second half of the NHL season and in the proverbial Second Season that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Vaulted production levels from Alex Killorn are elite for his career
“Killer Elite” is the term that popped out of my mouth when center Alex Killorn scored on Thursday night during the Bolts 4-0 blanking of the Arizona Coyotes. It was seeing the 18-goal mark that seemed above what Killorn has done in his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Oh, how it is so…
18 goals from Killorn in 41 games he participated in so far this season is equal-to or above all his full-NHL-season goal-scoring totals except one: in 81 games in 2016-17, Killer scored 19 times. That was a season marred by injuries to just about everyone and playoff-short team performance — the only one in head coach Jon Cooper’s career in Tampa Bay.
HockeyDB shows that Killorn’s final season with Harvard is the high-point of his hockey career in general in goal-scoring. That’s not a surprise, hockey fans know that players in juniors or college tend to go gonzo before going pro… The catch, in this case, is that Killorn’s goal-total in 34 games-played was 22 – four more goals than he has so far in 2019-20.
Killer’s also 10 points shy of his career-high of 47 points earned in 82 games (15 goals 32 assists). He can’t go that high in games-played this season (he’s already missed games), but unless he misses more playing time, his offensive production should continue as killer elite this season.
In brief, a response to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s current success
Eight wins in-a-row is a fluke, nine would be a streak.
Unless you are a long-time Lightning fan or have paid attention to Golts fans on social media, you won’t know where that type of thinking/phrasing comes from. It was said on Twitter by goalie Dustin Tokarski as the Norfolk Admirals – helmed by Jon Cooper with h Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Cory Conacher – tore up the AHL in 2012 on their way to a Calder Cup championship.
It’s an odd coincidence in Tampa Bay sports that the Lightning’s surge of-the-moment coincided the end of the Tampa Bay Buccneers NFL season of meh. It’s also a nice distraction from news of the moment.
Will it last? I don’t know. The talent and agility is there, that’s been proven time and again in recent years. We’ll see how it goes and where i6 goes as the season goes on…A grand tial is Thursday as the Arizona Coyotes stop by Amalie Arena.
Andrei Vasilevskiy can hecome the Tampa Bay Lightning’s winningest goalie with a victory vs Winnipeg
If the Tampa Bay Lightning win tonight in their contest with the Winnipeg Jets, and if Andrei Vasilevskiy is the goaltender on-record for the win, then the Bolts will have a new all-time winningest netminder.
Vasilevskiy, who has played 219 games and started 209 of them, is tied with Gen Bishop for most-wins with 131. Bishop accomplished the feat in 227 games-played/222 game starts.
There is much more statistical aspects to crow about with Vasy and Lightning history, but the focus today and tonight should be on one thing: A victory for Vasilevskiy.
You can find all the history (statistically, that is) of Lightning goaltending at Hokey Reference.
In search of Andy Hardy’s “Casablanca” parody-clip with Head Coach Sam Wyche
The late Andy Hardy was Sports Director at WTVT Channel 13 for longer than I know. In his last years in his role, the latest futility of Tampa Bay Buccaneers football was overseen by head coach Sam Wyche (we’re talking 1992 through 1995).Read More
“Where are they now?” of hockey blogging?
It’s on my mind as something that should be done but I don’t think I’m the one who should do it:
Someone should do a feature on members of the hockey blogosphere of the 2000s that helped bring media into the current state it’s in (hello, James Mirtle!_.
While we’re at it, someone ought to explore what happened to SB Nation hockey site founders and key staff members on certain sites. Some who came into the network in 2008-09 are still there while others have disappeared into the cosmos or onto rinky-dink personal blog sites that don’t have much exposure or notoriety. Like myself. Hi. ?
The season after regular-season domination and the Tampa Bay Lightning (with poll)
The 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning achieved. Oh, boy, did they achieve… The spectacular run was complemented by the spectacular, Hindenburg-like crash in the 2019 playoffs). The in-season run amounted to 62 victories, a feat that’s only been accomplished one other time in the history of the National Hockey League. Only two teams in league history won 75% of their season contests like that.
Yeah, but what happened next?Read More
Did you know…? Tampa Bay Lightning stars once were extras in a comic book movie?
This past summer I asked friends on Facebook to name a movie that was filmed in their area. Those who responded cited flicks fitting to the region they live in, there was a good variation because…hey! I have friends all over.
One of the respondents was one of my long-time contact who I’ve known specifically by way of our talking Tampa Bay Lightning hockey on forums way back in the past. Her response startled me because of how I’d forgotten the fact:
She cited The Punisher and reminded me how Lightning players had been n set for filming.Read More
Fox Sports Sun to live-stream Lightning 2019 preseason games
Earlier today I crossed a forum post asking about viewing Bolts preseason games on television. Nice coincidence that Fox Sports Sun PR released the announcement that live-streaming or preseason action will be available.
FOX Sports Sun, the television home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, will live stream all three Lightning preseason home games scheduled to take place at AMALIE Arena. Live streaming coverage will begin promptly at puck drop for all three games on FOX Sports GO and www.foxsportsgo.com.Via Fox Sports Florida/Sun PR Email
Watching on television will take some tech know-how, but in the end — why, yes! Yes you can watch preseason Tampa Bay Lightning games on television!
The streamed game schedule starts tomorrow at 7 PM EDT against the Carolina Hurricanes. Friday’s matchup against the Nashville Predators will be streamed as well as the September 29th affair against the Florida Panthers.
In conclusion: It’s been six months since you saw Lightning hockey. The drought is over, the storm awaits. You ready to bring the thunder?
Only one player stands out from Steve Yzerman’s 1st round draft history with the Lightning
It’s such a minor enigma and yet so profound. Draft picks don’t pan out all the time nor serve tenure with the team that selected them. That’s how it goes in hockey. Some last. Some serve. Some succeed.
The expectation is for the first-round draft picks to do the most and go the furthest in the NHL, and when a team is ardent on player development, you’d think those picks would be keepers.
That’s the enigma of Steve Yzerman’s tenure as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning… First-rounders have tended to be meh in one way or another.Read More
“Do You Believe In Miracles?” available for viewing here
I have referenced the HBO documentary “Do You Believe In Miracles?” for years in my time blogging. The most prominent being the 2014 piece that tried to pour water on those suggesting Team USA’s win over Russia in 2014’s Winter Olympics was comparable to the cultural event or Lake Placid when Team USA beat the Soviet Union.
“Do You Believe In Miracles?” shows you and tells you pretty clearly what made the event so big. It’s history in sports, it’s history in the United States.
At any rate, I round the documentary posted in full on YouTube. I post it here.
There isn’t much of a Tampa Bay Lightning blogosphere
Web logging (weblogging), commonly known as blogging, is an open platform of chronicling thoughts, observations or even reporting on issues and incidents as they transpire…with personal opinion and casual presentation mixed in. Blogging became common in the early 21st century (though weblog was coined in 1997) and has since graduated to a co-opted term by the major media; their own online presence is still news journalism but…hey! That “blog” term is so common and popular and all that…!
Blogging is still popular among amateurs, it’s still a casual endeavor (but can turn into one of expectation and dedication) that can attract eyeballs and allows fans/hobbyists/aspiring writers a chance to voice themselves at length at a location that puts their words at the forefront. It’s common in sports – fans have to express themselves somehow – and has its niche with every sports team. Well, most teams…
When an article a retired blogger wrote in 2018 is the 12th result on a web search for “Tampa Bay Lightning blogs”, there’s a problem.
Raw Charge, a Lightning blog I founded in 2009 and is built off my writings from my days as an indie blogger, has lacked a site manager for 14 months. The site is the top listing for Tampa Bay Lightning blog (or blogs) but it lacks site management and thus content (note: There’s someone serving on interim basis and content is on the site, just not what you’d expect from a blog representing one of the top NHL clubs of the past decade). Bolts by the Bay is the second blog that pops up in search results. Part of the FanSidd sports network which is very comparable to SB Nation (the host network for Raw Charge).
News media follows in search results, so do fan forum options. And ticketing. Ticketing is blogging, dontcha know??
I went through 50 entries of Tampa Bay Lightning blogs (and blogs) on Google and didn’t find an independent blog. Mind you, Bolt Prospects (which is certainly a Lightning blog) didn’t show up in search results. (I found out through direct look-up that The Lightning Lounge has ceased and archives o Lightning Shout are unavailable).
My point is folks, that while there is a franchise that is at the top of the NHL in Tampa Bay, it lacks a fan base that aspires to express itself in weblogging… You can certainly find fans in message foums like Reddit’s Lightning community, or on social media in a group on Facebook or loner-expression on Twitter, but that’s not blogging.
I did the same Tampa Bay Lightning blog search on Lycos. Lycos is one of the elder search engines out there (I once worked in search engine optimization) and can give you a unique result in web searches. Raw Charge, Bolts by the Bay and Lightning Insider (former Tampa Tribune beat writer Erik Erlendsson; it also came up prominently on Google results) were the top results. The fourth result was a Blogspot site that hasn’t been updated since 2008. That’s…uh… It’s results like that which actually inspired me to start blogging in 2004 — because long-dead fan sites were the lead search results after prominent media.
Bing’s search results for Tamps Bay Lightning blog mirrored results from Lycos. The results for the plural blogs included DRaysBay in top-10 search results. Tampa Bay Rays baseball is decidedly not Tampa Bay Lightning hockey.
This whole subject-matter is on my mind simply because I want to promote Lightning hockey blogs on my link-aggregation/hockey blog attempt at Hockey Daily. I was (and am) trying to follow more individual blots to promote feature write-ups (with intentions to have a place for blog writers to write their own features too). It’s tough to promote Lightning blogs when there aren’t any out there. Or at least not ones with proper search engine context (the joys of HTML and Meta tagging).
It’s a dead zone. While I know there’s social-media networking (interaction on Twitter), it would seem fans have gone to impulse-reaction primarily (via Twitter or Reddit) in order to gain immediate responses from other fans. You can’t fault that as it basically summarizes sports fans in general (action, reaction, socializing) but it also shows a void; a lacking aspiration to be more and be seen further and wider than those who immediately respond. An aspiration to say more and show more and not just have a community respond and react.
Some quick remarks about the Lightning’s summer
I haven’t said much this summer about the Tampa Bay Lightning, now have I? The summer hadn’t really driven me to remark besides being confused by Julien BriseBois push to sign Joe Pavelski at the opening of the 2019 NHL Free Agent season. It was defense where the Lightning were in need – not because of a lack of talent but because of aging and free agent loses. Dan Girardi? Gone (okay, he’s unsigned but likely won’t be back). Anton Stralman? History (and, ahem, a threat to NHL owners). Brayden Coburn was re-signed, Luke Schenn was inked (and met with a negative fan reaction). While other minor D were re-upped and other roster moves made in July, it felt like the Bolts hadn’t done anything.
But when the New York Rangers bought-out Kevin Shattenkirk (a little late in free agency, which made it seem odd) I had the thought, “Oh, gee, wouldn’t that be a fitting signing after a meh summer?”
Reflecting on the history and the Ice Palace that is Amalie Arena
I’ve got a phrase in my head. It’s a pretentious intro to a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. Something to be used repeatedly to give weight to the event and where it’s being played (as well as merit to the person saying it).
Weight comes to words with repetition. Sometimes it’s dubious, sometimes it’s forgettable, sometimes it goes down into the history books and is engraved in society (or, in this case, sports culture).
Along the banks of the Garrison Channel at the heart of Tampa, Florida. We welcome you to the hall of the venerable ice palace known as Amalie Arena for a night of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey.
To see that turn of phrase might lead Joe Q. Average to wonder what the hell venerable means (here’s your answer). Others of the Tampa Bay area (specifically younger generations and transplants of recent years) may be curious (or scoff) at Amalie Arena being called an “ice palace”. That just happens to be the building’s original name. That fact isn’t news for long-time Lightning fans. This fall will be the building’s 23rd anniversary of its opening.
And yet we’re left to wonder about the story behind the name Ice Palace.Read More
An image from Tampa BayLightning history and the 1996 NHL Playoffs
Preceding this image with a history lesson of Tampa Bay sports would seem fitting, as the Buccaneers were a joke or oh-so-long and the fledgling Tampa Bay Lightning did not see their first competitions until 1995-96. It’s that latter point that this whole post and this image are based on.Read More
The brink of NHL free agency 2019
I have no words as we sit about 20 hours away from the opening of the free agent season in the NHL. There’s been plenty of player movement in the league and speculation, but the dust won’t truly be settled until training camps ensue in September. That’s part of why this writer is quiet… I’m watching the annual maelstrom.Read More
One dedicated fan reacts to the Tampa Bay Rays balk
On Twitter, I just promoted an article headline at the Tampa Bay Times that says the July 1st – 3rd games at Tropicana Field will have $2 tickets available. This comes hours after news of the Rays sending out an email to fans about how desperately the club wants to stay in Tampa Bay.,
Both gestures are face-saving, damage-control tactics. The former coincides with the club’s general marketing failure when it comes to costs of attending games at Tropicana Field and issues attendees have which are in the Rays control to improve. The latter coincides rhetoric of Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg from Wednesday as well as the club’s forced-rush “negotiating” tactic failure with the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County on a proposed ballpark in Ybor City.
The words of value here are not from the articles cited above but from a Twitter response when I published the news of the Rays ticket-price plan. It’s a reactive response to where the Rays have put themselves in the last seven days with thanks to seeking and gaining exploration permission on playing home games in both St. Petersburg and Montréal, Quebec:
This is one fan’s reaction. This does not state how the fans of the Tampa Bay metroplex react in general, but it shows cause and effect. Action, reaction.
The actions and choices of the Rays brass speak volumes while a marketing tactic and a damage control emails are close to mute in this season of #Raysfall — a summer where the team has on-field competitiveness while those in control of the franchise are seeking maximum profit at minimum investment or tact, sullying franchise and market value in the process.
A feat in failure, the Bolts beat the Blues
A factoid from a season now gone bye-bye. It’s an amazing feat for St. Louis Blues fans and those looking from the outside. It also happens to be a frustrating reminder for Tampa Bay Lightning fans — achievement, yet a flat ending.
Via Reddit’s /r/hockey community:
Now that the Stanley Cup has been won, I would like to point out that the Tampa Bay Lightning had more wins in the regular season (62) than the St. Louis Blues had in the regular season and playoffs combined (45+16=61). Not sure if this has ever happened before.
Three months away; Lightning announce 2019 preseason schedule
On the day of the grand finale of the 2018-19 NHL season, the Tampa Bay Lightning laid down kindling for the 2019-20 season to come.
Oh, it’s not a huge bit of news – not a personnel hiring, not a staff change, not a transaction — but it does set sights on the Bolts season ahead.
They released the 2019 preseason schedule.Read More
Population, percentages, and the lackluster Tropicana Field draw
The greater Tampa Bay metro area has a population in the millions. While the next US Census, to be conducted in 2020, may bring solid, true numbers, a simple Google Search gives you the picture in a round-about way: 2.783 million. That statistically estimate of the population of Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey and all the burgs of Tampa Bay combined is from 2010 but it gives you an idea there are plenty of people in the Bay area.
Now let’s go back to a simple question that I posted on social media and this blog last week, very simple but it will illustrate a point of issue that is not talked about plain-jane by politicians or media: What is keeping you from Tropicana Field?
Yesterday, June 1st, 2019, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Minnesota Twins at the Trop and drew a heady (sic) 14,381 to the Saturday afternoon game. The Tampa Bay Rays are in 2nd place in the American League East, they’ve got a .625 win percentage, they’re producing competitive baseball, be it in wins or losses (they dropped Saturday’s game ) and they drew 14,381 to a facility with a maximum seating capacity of 42,735.Read More
A conversation that needs to be had with sports fans in Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay area is a sports marketplace that entertains itself so often through sports competition and tends to produce athletes for multiple sports at all levels. We’re fans through and through though.
You would not think that’s the case with attendance at Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field this season, though… or last season. Or the year before.
There’s a conversation that has to be had here in the marketplace. It’s been sidestepped to create a shallow build-it-for-me, Tampa-vs-St. Petersburg factor that pits the market against itself.Read More
My love for hockey and the glory of the Stanley Cup
With the start of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals tonight, I got a wee bit nostalgic.
In 2014 the Raw Charge staff of Tampa Bay Lightning writers participated in a series of posts chronicling things that endeared each of us to the sport of Ice hockey.
My Five Things post was published on February 18th, 2014. The final topic that makes me love this sport is what I quote in full here.
One reason I love ice hockey and am tied to the game is my reverence of the Chalice of Lord Stanley and it’s history:Read More
WalletHub’s unfair judgment of Tampa Bay as a basketball market
“Tampa is one of the worst hockey markets in North America because of attendance to it’s super junior and college hockey teams stinks.”
Anyone who sees that remark should either laugh or wonder who the hell would draw that kind of conclusion? Tampa Bay doesn’t host super junior league hockey, nor is it known for even competing in collegiate hockey, let alone drawing attendance. Why would they? Unless a college hockey team was playing at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa, attendance is negligible at the other ice sports venues in the Tampa Bay area.
So, is the above statement fair market judgement?
What brings me to this isn’t hockey. Not at all. It is market critiques with sports and limited data that brings forth this judgment. WalletHub sent me an email showing Tampa ranking horribly as a basketball market.
Basketball market?Read More
2019 NHL Playoffs: Oh, how the mighty have fallen
Ring around the Rosie
Pocket full of posies
We all fall down!
- Ring Around the Rosie
I told you I ain’t a betting man and while I stood and fell with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 NHL playoffs, while ridicule was poured heavily on the franchise (by fans and general sports followers) for their exquisite failings… Well? The best of the best have failed.
All of them.Read More
Will the start of Steve Yzerman’s tenure in Detroit bring transactions with Tampa Bay?
I could be dead wrong on this but I’ve also got a certainty tied to it, so here goes: I have an inkling, this feeling, that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn is Detroit-bound.
If it ain’t Killorn, it’s going to be somebody wrought through the Tampacuse system. All with thanks to the fact what Stevie Y wants, Stevie Y gets.Read More
Without a job and without a path forward
I’ve got a conundrum.
In the business world, it’s not a problem really: Long-time veteran of a field of business leaves said-field for two full years and then gets an inkling to re-enter as issues faced personally or an attempt to find a career in a new field hadn’t pass muster. This ambiguous jargon makes it seem plain and simple, don’t it?
It’s not that simple. Not for me.
You can see in a couple of recent blog posts I’ve done that I’ve been touching on my old forte in hockey blogging. I am one of the original hockey bloggers, having founded Boltsmag.com in February 2004, running it independently for five years before being recruited by my long-time colleague James Mirtle (who started his own writing career independently at Blogspot) to SB Nation where I founded Raw Charge. I blogged about the Tampa Bay Lightning and NHL for 12 and a half years before resigning due to burnout (a burnout which also seen as symptoms of a surprising health issue that almost killed me).
Blah, blah, blah… Maybe I should ge back in? I’ve got nothing else going for me.Read More
The simple truth; 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning playoffs post-mortem summary
They don’t call the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs the Second Season for nothing. Accomplishments during the NHL’s regular season be damned; everything starts at zero, every team starts on an even keel. Every team has a chance.
Game One and the first period of play, the Lightning did what was expected of them. The high flying ability of the 2018-19 President Trophy winning club was on display.
After the first intermission of Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, things changed. The next eight periods of play were rife with… what? I don’t know. It just didn’t come off like the gameplay that so many bore witness to from the club during the regular season. Chippiness, penalties, scrums, and fights. One might put the spotlight on the Columbus Blue Jackets for that as if they were the antagonists… No, no… It was an NHL game and the team that was antagonizing most heavily was the Lightning. Penalizations ensued. Opportunities rained down on the Jackets by way of it.
Eight periods of play – the bulk of Game One, Game Two and THree in full… the damage was done and Columbus capitalized on it with sound play, leading to their own imposing play and victories. Excuses could be made — primarily that chief defenseman Victor Hedman was playing while injured and was sidelined with Anton Stralman for Game Four — but that’s just it, an excuse. That’s not to say Hedman being hurt didn’t cause issues, it’s that what was going on in Lightning team play wasn’t defensive lapses. It was overall team play and perhaps game-plan lapses
The titans of contention during the 2018-19 regular season turned into the also-ran roster of the 2019 Second Season. That’s it. That’s the way to look at it.Read More
The Great Outdoors and the first Eastern Conference Quarterfinals watch party for Lightning fans
It’s the time of the season for fans to congregate together and watch Tampa Bay Lightning hockey during the 2019 NHL Playoffs. Seeing everyone can’t make it to the Amalie for games (or venues of opposing teams — in this instance, Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio), watch parties by the Lightning are a nice way to do it.
It was announced Monday that hockey fans in Tampa Bay can hit up an official watch party at Curtis Hixon Park for Wednesday’s Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It won’t just be hockey watching in Curtis Hixon on Wednesday as the rock group Cage the Elephant is also supposed to perform.
Details from the Bolts press release are as follows:Read More
The gamble and the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Once in a while, I get contacted with hockey-related stuff that reminds me I actually established myself in coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning while blogging on Boltsmag/Raw Charge. In this
Here’s the question and what follows is my response:
I hope you are doing well. Who would you take if you were forced to place a bet about the upcoming NHL playoffs; Tampa Bay or the rest of the field? I thank you again for your time.— C.R.
Another benchmark change is looming for the Lightning in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs
As it stands, with the 2018-19 regular season still in play, Tampa Bay Lightning history has a total of five players who have played with the club in five Stanley Cup Playoffs: Pavel Kubina, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos,
History is about to change, obviously…
The forthcoming 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be Stamkos and Hedman’s sixth time, setting the new franchise paramount in their tenth and ninth NHL seasons respectively. It just seems fitting that this new “record” is being set in a season with so much record-breaking by the Bolts.
Kubby, Vinny, and Marty won’t e alone in the five-season playoff appearance category; they just didn’t play with the guys who will be joining them in the ranks. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Nikita Kucherov have been in all of the playoff seasons helmed by current head coach Jon Cooper (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018). It’s also worth mentioning that Johnson, Palat and Killorn were also part of Cooper’s 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals team that won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup. Also worth noting is Kucherov’s struggles of 2013-14 (communications) limited his ice time during the Bolts Eastern Conference Quarterfinal failure; he only played in two of the five games of The series.
Of all the aforementioned Lightning players, it’s just Kubina, Lecavalier,