SBD/Issue 155/Franchises

NHL Franchise Notes: Jeff Vinik Ready To Rebuild The Lightning

Lightning Owner Says He Will Not Be
Involved In Day-To-Day Operations Of Team

In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont profiled new Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik, who said his goal is to turn the franchise "into a world-class organization." Vinik stressed that he is the "franchise owner, not the CEO or the day-to-day general manager, and he’s equally clear about the difference between owning and operating a franchise." Vinik: "I’ll hire a super CEO, and then it will be his job to hire a super GM, and it will be the GM’s job to hire a super coach." Vinik would not "reveal his short list" for the CEO job, saying only that he has "had discussions with a number of prime candidates." He believes that hockey in Tampa "can prosper." Vinik: "We led the league in attendance for the first two seasons out of the lockout" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).

TAKE IT TO THE BANK: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare reports locally based Harris Bank is launching two Blackhawks-themed TV spots that "hockey fans who know the game will especially enjoy." In one of the ads, via Element 79, Chicago, two Harris Bank tellers "leap over a counter to relieve two other on-duty tellers as befuddled Blackhawk Duncan Keith -- in full uniform -- looks on." In the second spot, a bank employee "wraps a pen in tape so Hawk Brent Seabrook can hold it in his hockey glove." Lazare writes "nothing in either of the new spots is overwrought," though "much of the humor in the spots will probably be lost on viewers less familiar with how hockey is played" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/26).

LET THEM STAY! Hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky said he would like to see the Coyotes "stay in Phoenix." Gretzky, former coach and Managing Partner of the club, said, "They deserve to keep their team. It's a great city with great hockey fans." He added, "While I don’t want to see Phoenix move, I would like to see southern Ontario or Toronto get another team. Toronto can certainly handle it. If New York can handle three teams, Toronto can handle two teams" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/25).

ROOKIE SENSATION: The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek noted the Oilers are "increasing the number of tickets available to season ticket holders by 500." The Oilers previously capped season tickets at 13,000, "making the rest available in game packs and on a game-by-game basis." The Oilers have the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft, and Duhatschek noted "presumably, the Oilers are counting on the presence of either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin in the lineup to coax the more wary subscribers back" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 4/23).

TIME TO RISE UP?: A Rangers spokesperson said that there is "nothing to" a rumor that former Wild GM Doug Risebrough will join the Rangers "in a similar role." ESPN.com's E.J. Hradek noted Risebrough is consulting for the club and has a "long-standing relationship" with Rangers President & GM Glen Sather, who reportedly would remain in his role as President as part of the new arrangement. Hradek noted it is "hard to know" whether MSG Chair James Dolan "would sign off on it." Dolan has been "loyal when it comes to Sather, who'd probably have to agree to the move" (ESPN.com, 4/25).

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