3 things the Tampa Bay Lightning should be grateful for

The Tampa Bay Lightning is celebrating 30 yearsThe tenth anniversary this season. So, this Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on their junior season and what they have to be thankful for in 2022-23. After winning two consecutive Stanley Cups and advancing to the Final in three straight seasons, the Lightning players could have been complacent and fans indifferent to the success. However, it takes more than talent on the ice to compete year after year. It takes the entire organization to create a winning culture.

Besides two diamond-encrusted championship rings, here are three things Lightning has to be thankful for.

Coach John Cooper

When former general manager Steve Yzerman hired John Cooper to take over as head coach of the Lightning in March 2013, not many people knew who he was because he was not a former player and had never coached in the NHL before. However, he built a winning team in Tampa, but was unable to keep his team in the playoffs without the respect of his players and assistant coaches.

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Cooper’s list of achievements is growing every year. Last season, he became the fastest coach in NHL history to win 400 games and has a career winning percentage of . 649. Besides the wins and losses, players depend on his positive attitude to keep them motivated. For example, when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Lightning to win the 2022 Stanley Cup, he gathered his coaching staff for the post-game press conference. After praising Avalanche, he simply said, “We’re not done.”

Why Lightning should be grateful to Coach Cooper: Because it keeps the team focused, determined and ready to win every game.

Owner Jeff Fenick

The Lightning is the exemplar of an NHL team, and one of the most admired franchises in all of sports. The person most responsible for this distinction is owner Jeff Finick.

Owner Jeff Vinick of the Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 26: Owner Jeff Vinick of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Elliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

In 2010, he bought Vinik Lightning for $170 million. At that point, the struggling team had been removed six years from its first Stanley Cup and rumors swirled about a possible franchise transfer. 12 years later, they are perennial contenders and are financially stable.

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This past May, as the Lightning were chasing their third championship, the team was named Team of the Year by Sports Business Journal. The Tampa Bay Business Magazine He also stated that the 2021-22 season “marked the fourth consecutive year Tampa was in the top three in total league attendance. New season ticket revenue totaled $5.7 million, while sponsorship revenue figures were 120% of the NHL average, Including an increase of 10% year-on-year.

Besides building revenue, Vinik was determined to establish Lightning in the local community so he started Community Heroes. The program donates $50,000 per home game to Tampa Bay area charities and community organizations. Last year, he pledged $10 million to continue supporting the program for another five years.

In addition to the Community Heroes program, Vinick is solidifying his legacy by investing in the downtown area, through a $3.5 billion commercial real estate development project called Water Street Tampa. The first phase has been successful as 70 to 80 percent of the one million square feet office space has been leased.

Another example of Finnick’s generosity and dedication to the team was shown when Hurricane Ian was heading toward Tampa Bay during the preseason. His concern was not only for the team but for their families as they moved their training camp to Nashville. Coach Cooper humorously stated, “Everyone’s trying to take care of their families, everyone should be brought here [including] Pets. was like [team owner Jeff] Finike’s ship, you have brought everyone here.”

Why the Lightning should be grateful to owner Jeff Vinik: Not only did he make the team respectable and save the franchise from collapse, but he’s also loyal to the team and the community.

Lightning fan base

Thirty years ago, the Lightning didn’t know what to expect as they began their first season in the NHL. The members of the Ottawa Senators, who were the other expansion team in 1992-93, are now up for sale and there is no guarantee they will stay in the Canadian capital.

However, it was clear from the start that Lightning fans love their hockey game. Although through the “dark days” of several losing seasons, team instability, and poor management, fan support declined. But since then, they’ve put the winning team on the ice and fans have made their end of the bargain by supporting their team. In fact, the Lightning hold the longest sellout streak in the NHL – stretching all the way back to March 2015.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Corey Perry celebrates with fans.
Tampa Bay Lightning’s Corey Perry celebrates with fans (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Lightning players realized how much they value fans during the pandemic when they won the Stanley Cup in an empty arena. The following year, the league still limited the number of fans who could attend games, including the playoffs, when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena to win their second straight championship.

Why Lightning should be grateful to the fans: selling 290 consecutive home games.

There are many reasons why Lightning is grateful for this season. For starters, they’ve survived 30 years and have been growing game attendance since those early years. In addition to the talent on the ice, the Lightning organization keeps the team competitive and there is no reason to think this will end anytime soon.

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