The Tampa Bay Lightning opened the 2010 season on Saturday by beating the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3. With new ownership, management, and coaching, Tampa fans face the season with excitement.
Last May, Jeff Vinik purchased the Lightning and hired a new administration and coaching staff. He hired possibly the greatest hockey center of all time, Steve Yzerman, for the position of general manager and vice president.
Yzerman played for 22 years with the Detroit Red Wings and served as team captain for 20 of those years. Most recently, he worked as VP of the Red Wings and Executive Director for Hockey Canada. While there, the Canadian team won the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Yzerman brings professionalism, hockey knowledge, and the desire to win to the Lightning.
Vinik also hired Tod Leiweke as CEO, who will be in charge of growing fan attendance. Leiweke’s experience includes the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers.
So far, Tampa fans have noticed a number of changes, including opportunities to meet the team and open practices. The new ownership and management recognize the importance of the fans, and want to build a relationship with people of Tampa.
In addition to new management, the Tampa Bay Lightning hired a new coach in July, Guy Boucher. His coaching experience includes the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and the American Hockey League (AHL). He has also worked for Hockey Canada. Boucher brings good communication, motivation skills, and defense to the Lightning. His mantra so far this season has been, “Be prepared to give it up for the team.”
After the win over the Thrashers, Boucher and the Lightning went to center ice and saluted the nearly 20,000 fans in attendance. It was a good size crowd given the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays played the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series during the Lightning game.
With all these changes, the fans expect great things, and they were not disappointed in the opening game. Steve Downie, Dominic Moore, and Vincent Lecavalier each scored a goal, while last year’s Richard Trophy winner, Steven Stamkos, continued his scoring ways with two goals. It was a great start to the 2010 season for the team and its fans.
Yzerman photo credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett
Stamkos photo credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara