Jeff Vinik Celebrates Virtually With Cup Champion Lightning
Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik could not be in the the NHL's bubbles in Edmonton or Toronto, so he called into his players' locker room celebration last night, "congratulating them for their second Stanley Cup championship in team history" after their win over the Stars, according to Pat Pickens of NHL.com. Vinik, who purchased the franchise in '10, was in Florida watching the Lightning complete their 18-7 run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs and "had to tell his players how happy he was." He said on a video call, "Hey guys, awesome job. So many years in the making, with new guys and the guys who have been here for a while, unbelievable effort. Dominant through the playoffs. You deserve it" (NHL.com, 9/29). In Tampa, Alexis Muellner writes winning hockey has "been the goal since" Vinik bought the team in '10. The Stanley Cup is "one of the hardest trophies to win in sports." The achievement has been "as much a goal for the organization as has its widespread efforts to transform the community" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/29). Sports Business Journal profiled Vinik in '15 following the Lightning's most-recent previous appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
THIS ONE'S FOR YOU, TAMPA: In N.Y., Carol Schram notes in an "era of parity in the NHL, where dynastic franchises largely belong to a bygone era," the Lightning have been "one of the most successful teams in the league since Cooper took over behind their bench near the end of the 2012-13 season" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/29). In Tampa, John Romano writes the Lightning "rule the NHL for the first time" since '04, and that is "enough for fans who have learned that expectation can be the dirtiest word of all." Romano: "So this one is for you, Tampa Bay" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/29). Also in Tampa, Josh Fiallo notes there "weren't many butts in seats" at Thunder Alley, the plaza outside Amalie Arena, for the final 10 minutes of last night's game. Amid a "sea of socially distanced blue and white, hundreds of Lightning fans "stood and chanted in anticipation" as the clock ran out. For the region, it was a "rallying point amid a pandemic and political tensions just two months before Election Day" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/29).
WELL WISHES FROM A FORMER COLLEAGUE: In Detroit, Mark Falkner notes Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, who spent eight years as Lightning GM and one year as senior advisor to current VP & GM Julien BriseBois, saw his Lightning teams advance to the conference finals three times with an appearance in the '15 Cup final against the Blackhawks, but they never won hockey's ultimate prize. Yzerman on Saturday addressed the prospect of the Lightning winning the Cup: "I'm not sure if it's satisfaction but I would be really happy for the organization, Jeff Vinik, Julien BriseBois, the players, the coaching staff. That community is really a great little hockey market, a really cool community and they really embrace the Lightning" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/29).