The Tampa Bay Lightning Are A Different Sort Of A Team ………………

Well  without much of  a fanfare  the  days of renowned ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose  came  and  went  without  much of  a furore in Tampa Bay. Such was the  consequential hiring and then all too abrupt firing.  That as  a sound byte it didn’t  really  create that much of a  seismic  wave within the sport.  Melrose brought in to replace John Tortorella  was seen  more of as a figurehead  who’d  garner the respect  of  his  players  and at the same time  bring  back some of the luster  and  pizzaz to a franchise  that’d fallen  somewhat on hard times.   Their home base of  the  St Pete Times Forum  wasn’t  the  same  place  that it once  was  when they  were  indeed the Stanley Cup champions and held sway over all of  the  NHL. 

 

Avalanche goaltender  Andrew Raycroft makes a golve save  against the  Lightning's  Martin St Louis ..........
Avalanche goaltender Andrew Racyroft makes a glove save against the Lightnings' Martin St Louis ..........

Avalanche goaltender makes a glove save  against the  Lightning’s Martin St  Louis  in the penalty shootout between the  two teams. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Chris O’Meara ………………..

 

But then  again as  we  all know  the  aftermath of  the Lightning’s  triumph  was shortlived  as  the  NHL and  its  players  spiralled out of  control  all by their sheer  inability  to see  what  was  happening  to the game , the greed  therein  and  the  naivete’  of  NHL  governor Gary Bettman.  Such as  things are now for the  franchise those  heady days  are now long  gone and  they’re  now  mired  in  mediocrity  with Rick Tocchet  now  charged with leading  them back to some  semblance  of  respectability. 

 

Mike Smith(41) the Lightning's  goaltender  disputes  the  call made  that he  threw his stick at  the Avalanche's Milan Hejduk  during the  penalty  shooutout  that  decided the  game in the Avalanche's favor ............
Mike Smith(41) the Lightning's goaltender argues a disputed decision with linesman David Bisebois where it was adjudged that Smith threw his stick at the Avalanche's Milan Hejduk during the penalty shooutout that the decided the game in the Avalanche's favor.

Mike Smith(41) the Lightning’s goaltender disputes the  linesman’s assertion that  he  intentionally threw his  stick at the Avalanche’s Milan  Hejduk  during the penalty shootout.  The  game was won 2-1 by the  Colorado  Avalanche  which  was  played  at  the  St Pete Times’ Forum in Tampa, Florida. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Chris O’Meara …………………..

 

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s season so far  can be  best described  as abysmal  to say the least.  And  though I’ve never  been much  of a hockey fan , to  my mind a  competitive and combative sport is  still  a  sport  no  less.  Tampay Bay Lightning for all of its  vagaries  has been playing as if it lacks  on confidence on the  ice and  has at this moment  in time no real leadership on it.  The  hyperbole  and  furore  surrounding the new  owner Oren Koules led one to believe  that after his purchase of  the  the from the  Davidson family. The  franchise would be on the rise to even bigger and better things.  But  then again when it comes  to  Hollywood  hype  Koules knows a thing  or two  about  the  whole  transiency  of the system  therein.  As a producer of  the  low  budget movie Saw, the   series  that has  become  a blockbuster as well  as  being an accredited producer for  the  CBS sitcom Two And A  Half Men.  It  can be said  that Koules  knows how  sell  make  and sell a  good product. Even when it happens to be  mediocre  in value.   That being  said  Koules’  penchant  for the  game  is  unquenchable  and  it’s his passion for it  and  the franchise  that  may  well also in some way  determine its  success on and off  the rink.

 

Peter Budaj of  the Avalanche celebrates  with teammates after the team's  OT victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning ...........
Peter Budaj the backup goaltender of the Avalanche celebrates with teammates after the team's O/T victory over the Lightning 2-1 in Tampa, Fl...................

Backup goaltender Peter Budaj of the Colorado Avalanche  celebrates with teammates after  the  team’s  O/T victory 2-1  over the  Tampa Bay Lightning  at the St Pete Times  Forum in Tampa, Florida.  picture appears  courtesy of getty images/ Doug Benc ………………

 

It has to be said  that it is  never  good  to see a professional sport’s franchise  mired  in mediocrity. But then again it’s  never  good  to see anyone be in such a predicament. Be it  self inflicted or not  which  in  many  ways this  whole  situation  for  the Lightning  wasof their  own making. They served up a platter  of  delicacies to the  fans by shedding  players who’d served  the franchise well.  And  brought in  players whom in many  respects didn’t  fit  the mould  of what the franchise had been  about  to begin with and  what  had originally  brought  about  its  success. Now as the  season  has got under way and  with  no real  identity  to speak of this  team struggles  to even show  some  semblance  of success.  No  leadership  from the  likes  of  Vincent ‘Vinny’ Lecalier  and  from even  his  teammate Martin St Louis. But yet the  fans  are  led  to believe  that  all  will be  right once  they  find their  footing.  And  even with their  young rookie  Steve Stamkos  now  realizing  the  rigors  of  playing  in the NHL isn’t  all  that  it’s cracked  up  to be.  One  can summize  that this  team’ll be in for a hard  time as the season progresses.

 

Goaltender Andrew Raycroft of  the Avalanche looks on as teammate Adam Foote(52) guards the  puck on defense  as  the Lightning's Martin St  Louis  tries to  makes his presence  felt .............
Adam Foote(52) of the Avalanche handles the puck on defense as his teammates goaltender Adam Raycroft looks on. In picture also is the Lightning's Martin St Louis.................

Adam Foote on defense handles  the  puck as  teammate and  goaltender Andrew Raycroft  looks  on as  the  Lightning’s Martin St  Louis on offense tries to make his presence felt. picture appears couertesy of  getty images/ Doug Benc  ……………………

 

If there’s one thing  that  has  become  apparent  for  both Tocchet and  Koules with regard  to the  team  is that it’s certainly  not playing  with  any  confidence  at all. And as  it sits at the  bottom of the  Southeast  Division  with  just 22 pts , just two  points  adrift of the Atlanta Thrashers and some 19 points out  of first place where  the  Washington Capitals who hold the lead.  Much as many  feel that it’s not  out  of the  realms  of  possibility for  the  franchise  to  make a run at a playoff berth. I’m  inclined  to believe that unless  they can catch  lightning  in  a bottle  and play  out  of  their  skins. The  only thing  that this team has  to play  for  now is pride and  self respect. And no matter  what assurances  and  rhetoric  that’s  forthcoming  from interim coach  Rick Tocchet.  The fact of the matter is that  this team just isn’t  good enough  to  hang  with  the  big dawgs of the  NHL  at  present.   Nor  are  they  likely  to  be  until they  get  a backbone.  Defensively they’re abysmal  and  on the  offensive side of  things at times  they’re  all somewhat gunshy.  A far  cry  from those halcyon days  of  being  called champions  and  their  bravado on the ice  went  unquestioned.

 

From left to right Oren Koules the  team owner and  former coach Barry Melrose  along with the  team's #1 draft pick  Steve  Stamkos ...........
Team owner Oren Koules(left), Barry Melrose the team's former coach (in the middle) and their #1 draft pick Steve Stamkos

In happier times  from  right to left  team owner Oren Koules, former coach  Barry Melrose center)  and  the team’s number one  draft pick  Steve Stamkos.  picture appears courtesy of  ap/photo/Chris O’Meara  ………………

 

With the San Jose Sharks now setting  the  league alight with  their outstanding play on the ice  their phenomenal start to the season. We can see the ever widening gap that  exists between the haves and have nots. With the Lightning sitting at  the bottom of the ladder at  presenti within their division.  Much to the regret  of their devoted fans  and fans of the  game  allround.  That being  said if they’re  gain any semblance  of  success on the ice then  they’re  going  to have  to prove that  they’ve  not only  got  pride, professionalism  but also resolve  in proving  that they’re  prepared  to strive  for something worth fighting  for. If they’re  to gain some semblance  of  respectability then this  team’ll  have to show  their  fans  that they possess  the resolve to show that they’ve  got what  it takes  to win and  at the same time  maintain that  momentum  for a prolonged  period of  time. And  not  just  show  flashes  of  brilliance  once in  a while. It’s one  thing to be mired in mediocrity but  it’s  another when the  expectations  from the outset were  so  much  more than what’s  now  being  witnessed on the ice.  Koules for  his part has  been  quintessentially  quiet  on the  topic  and the  procceding thus far  leaving it  to  General Manager Glen  Lawson to make whatever statements  are  deemed appropriate  for  the public’s  and press’ consumption.

 

Paul Szczechura of the Lightning takes a shot on goal against  the  Colorado Avalanche .............
Paul Szczhura of the Lightning takes aim for a shot on goal against the Colorado Avalance in a game played at the St Pete Times Forum in Tampa,Florida. The Lightning would end up losing the game in O/T 2-1 to the Avalanche.

 Paul Szczhura of  the  Tampa  Bay  Lightning takes  aim for a shot  on  goal  against  the Colorado Avalance  in a game played at the  St Pete Times Forum in Tampa , Florida. The  Lightning  would end  up losing the game in O/T 2-1  against the Avalanche.  picture  appears courtesy of   getty images/ Doug Benc ……

 

As to the fortunes  of  the  franchise from  hereon in  after  last  night’s uninspired loss  to  the  Avalanche  where the  team  more than  held its  own. It  has  to be said  that  the  events  could’ve been  avoided  had they  shown  even  more resolve from the outset.  They  squandered  chances  from  the beginning  to the end and allowed the  Colorado Avalanche  back  into  a game  that  they  themselves  knew  they  had  no  right  to win. One’s fortunes are created  by  the chances  that  you’re willing  to take  and  the  fortunes  of the Lightnning  whilst  looking   good  at the  start  of  the season  were  mainly  built  around  nothing  more than a great deal of  hooplah   and  grandiose  thinking  on the  path  of  both  Koules  and  Melrose  with there  being  little  creativity or  imagination  as  to the  overall  direction that  the  team  was  to proceed  in. Now  playing  to  at  times  a half  filled  arena  on some nights ,the  franchise is  no  longer  the  best  value  that  money can buy  within the city of  Tampa  when it comes  to  a sporting  event.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have  long held  sway  in the  public’s  imaginationn within  the city  and  now  with  the  advent  of  the  Tampa Bay Rays. It  has  to be  said  the  Lightning are  no  longer a  team that  the  fans  are  all  that  rabid  for  on or  off  the  ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tophatal ……………………….

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