Tampa Bay Lightning Tickets
Tampa Bay Lightning, the professional ice hockey team from Tampa, Florida, was established in 1992. It is a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the NHL. The team is typically referred to as the Bolts, thanks to the bolt of lightning in their logo. Tampa Bay Lightning is currently owned by Jeffrey Vinik and Steve Yzerman is the general manager. The current coach is Jon Cooper, and the home ground for the team is the Amalie Arena in Tampa. Their name came from Tampa’s status as the “Lightning Capital of North America”. The team has a huge fan following, and it is evident by how fast Tampa Bay Lightning tickets sell out before, and during the season.
Let’s take a look at what this team has been up to, since its formation more than two decades ago.
Tampa Bay Lightning, the professional ice hockey team from Tampa, Florida, was established in 1992. It is a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the NHL. The team is typically referred to as the Bolts, thanks to the bolt of lightning in their logo. Tampa Bay Lightning is currently owned by Jeffrey Vinik and Steve Yzerman is the general manager. The current coach is Jon Cooper, and the home ground for the team is the Amalie Arena in Tampa. Their name came from Tampa’s status as the “Lightning Capital of North America”. The team has a huge fan following, and it is evident by how fast sell out before, and during the season.
Let’s take a look at what this team has been up to, since its formation more than two decades ago.
Formation and Early Years
As part of the NHL’s expansion plan in the late 1980s, Phil and Tony Esposito won a bid against Peter Karmanos and Jim Rutherford for the expansion franchise in Tampa Bay area. The first season they played was the 1992-93 season under star coach Terry Crisp, who played with the Philadelphia Flyers in their Stanley Cup victory seasons in the 1970s, and coached the Calgary Flames to victory in 1989. Their first formal game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks was a head turner for many as the newly formed team beat the experienced players from Chicago, 7-3.
Lightning were soon at the top of the Norris Division. However, the bright start soon faded and the team finished last with a record of 23-54-7. In the coming season, the team shifted to the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division and changed their home ground to the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg. After a few lineup changes, the team finished the 1993-94 season last as well, with a record of 30-43-11. The 1995 season wasn’t much improvement either as the Lightning finished with a record of 17-28-3. Even with such performance, Lightning was still doing a lot better than the Ottawa Senators, who started playing right about the same time as Lightning.
From Successes to Failures
In the fourth season (1995-96) as an official NHL team, the Lightning finally made it to the playoffs, with the help of their All-Star defense. They eventually finished the season with a much better standing, beating the defending Stanley Cup champions New Jersey Devils. The team finished eighth in the Eastern Conference. Although they eventually lost out to the Philadelphia Flyers, this season was certainly one of the best for the team.
During the next off season, the Lightning made some new acquisitions as it got on board the goal scorer Dino Ciccarelli from the Detroit Red Wings. This turned out to be a really smart move for them, as Ciccarelli did not fail to impress at all. At the same time, the team moved to a brand new arena, the Ice Palace (now known as the Amalie Arena). But things did not continue to go well as they suffered a series of performance-hampering injuries. Puppa, one of their star players developed a serious back injury and ended up sitting out the whole season with the exception of four games. Bradley, another one of their main players lost time to several injuries, one after the other. Center John Cullen also missed the last 12 games of the 1996-97 season. Badly affected by this multitude of injuries, the Lightning ended up narrowly missing out on the playoffs. And things just went downhill from there onwards, as it would be seven years before the team would even come close to making it to the playoffs again. By 1998, things were not looking so good for the team. All the early stars in the team were now long gone as trades by Phil Esposito backfired. The star coach, Crisp, was also fired 11 games into the season and a new coach, Jacques Demers was hired in his place. The results did not improve, as the Lightning ended up losing a staggering 55 games in this season.
At this time, the back end managerial problems with the team began to manifest. The way Kokusai Green had been running the team proved to be damaging to the franchise finances, and it was rumored that as early as the second season, the Lightning were already on the brink of bankruptcy. Soon Kokusai Green was desperately trying to sell the team at any cost but due to the suspicious ownership situation, no serious buyer was willing to come forward. After much controversy, even Forbes wrote an article in late 1997, calling the team a financial nightmare, with huge heaps of debt, amounting up to a staggering 236% of its total value. Finally in 1998, the team had a buyer. Art Williams, owner of Birmingham Barracudas in the Canadian Football League took up the team which was $102 million in debt at that time. As soon as the new ownership took effect, Williams pumped in money into the franchise and cleared off all debt. The Esposito brothers were fired two games into the 1998-99 season and a new era began for the team under Demers as the complete controller of hockey operations. Even in such uncertain times, the team managed to sign on Vincent Lecavalier in 1998, the player who became a huge support for the team, in this season and many future seasons as well. The season did not go well for the Lightning, as they ended up losing 54 games. People started talking about how the damage done by the Green era might have been too much for the new management to overcome so quickly.
Returning to a Respectable Status
As the spring of 1999 came around, Williams began considering selling the team. He had already suffered more loss in one year than he thought he would in five years. He sold the team for $2 million less than what he had purchased it for, to Detroit Pistons’ owner William Davidson. Tom Wilson was then appointed to head the team while Davidson remained in Detroit. After several changes in the managerial side of the team, the Lightning were finally ready to play some serious hockey and make their return to respectable times. But things were not that simple. The team lost 54 games in the 1999-2000 season and 53 in the next. This record made them the first ever team in the history of NHL that suffered four straight 50-loss seasons. The only good thing in these tough times for the Lightning was the rising star of Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards. The next season, though a tough one for the team, showed some signs of recovery, giving fans hope that all was not lost and good times were coming ahead. The team earned more than 60 points for the first time since their 1997 season.
Stanley Cup Glory
2002-03 proved to be a turnaround year for the team. With a strong lineup, consisting of players such as Lecavalier, St. Louis, Modin, Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko, the team was all set for a return season. They finished the season on a high, with a record of 36-25-16. This was the first time in the team’s history that they crossed the 90 point threshold. Thanks to the wonderful season, coach Tortorella was named among the finalists for the Jack Adams Award.
In the playoffs, the team stumbled in the first two games but quickly followed up with two successive victories. Thanks to this, they ended up in the Conference Semifinals – another first for the team. The semifinals were a bit more difficult as the Lightning won only one game, losing the whole series to the New Jersey Devils.
The improvement for the Lightning continued in the 2003-04 season as well as they finished at an impressive 46-22-8-6 for 106 points, which was the second best in the league at the time. In the first round of playoffs, the Lightning beat New York Islanders, considered a formidable opponent. In the next round, the team defeated the famed Montreal Canadiens. Philadelphia Flyers came next. They were an even tougher opponent. After a set of eight closely fought games, the Lightning were able to win the whole series. This was the first time ever the team won the berth in Stanley Cup finals. Following this, the team had to wait a year to defend the title, due to the NHL lockout. 2005-06 wasn’t that great though as they barely made it to the playoffs and soon lost to the Ottawa Senators.
2006-07: The Short Post-Season
The first half of this season was dotted with inconsistent performances by the team. Lecavalier broke the franchise record for most points in a season as he finished with 108 points. The Lightning made several new acquisitions during this season. In the final week of the regular season, the Lightning lost to the Florida Panthers, one night before the season finale. The Lightning hence ended the season at 44-33-5 with 93 points.
2007-08: Things turn Bad
The team struggled to maintain a successful record during this season. Even though the star players were at the top of their game, the lackluster performances by the rest of the team pulled the entire scorecard down. In January of 2008, the Lightning had a 20-25-5 record with 45 points. During the trade period, the team made several new acquisitions. However, the results did not quite improve as expected. They ended the season at 31-42-9 with 71 points.
2008-2009: From Bad to Worse
This season was no better than the last. The team finished the season with a record of 24-40-18 with 66 points, which was their lowest since the 2000-01 season.
2009-10: Fresh Start
In the next off-season, the Lightning signed on Rick Tocchet as the full-time coach. Even though they struggled in the beginning of the season, they remained very competitive in the race for the playoffs until March. They ended the season with a record of 34-36-12 for 80 points. The ownership of the club again changed hands in the offseason.
2010-2011: Redeeming the Glory
This season was somewhat redemption for the team as they managed a record of 46-25-11 with 103 points, setting a record and keeping their place in the Southeast Division for several months. They returned to the playoffs in this season, for the first time since 2006-07.
2011-2012: The Rise of Stamkos
The next season was all about Stamkos’ stellar performances. He scored a franchise-record of 60 goals and landed the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.
2012-2013: Lecavalier Leaves
In 2013, the team announced that they would make Lecavalier an unrestricted free agent, who can sign with any team except the Lightning. This move came in wake of the fact that Lecavalier’s high salary was negatively impacting the entire salary cap for the team. The team finished this season at 7-16-1.
2013-2014: St. Louis Leaves
Next season, another one of the team’s star players was traded to the New York Rangers with an exchange arrangement that would see New York captain, Ryan Callahan come to Tampa Bay. The Lightning finished this season with 101 points and placed second in the Atlantic Division. This was the first time they had qualified for the playoffs since 2011.
2014-15: Stanley Cup Finals
The Lightning qualified for the playoffs in this season as well and continued with good performances. The season was going well as Tampa Bay beat three of the Original Six teams, only to be eventually ousted by the Chicago Blackhawks.
2015-16: Eastern Cup Finals
This season started off slow for the Lightning. But the team eventually ended up finishing second in the Atlantic Division and faced the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They defeated the Red Wings. However, soon the Lightning lost against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
And now the team, all set with its good form, is ready to take the sport by storm. If you are a fan, this would be the right time to get your hands on some Tampa Bay Lightning tickets.