As Catfish has mentioned, we have decided to adopt an NHL team for the 08-09 season. This means we will be covering the team and in a way, rooting them throughout their campaign. After our "diligent" process of elimination we were left with the four choices in our poll. We will be doing a brief pros and cons to each organization in terms of our getting on their bandwagon. Here is our first of the four reviews; the Tampa Bay Lightning, after the break.
Barry Melrose: After years behind the desk as TWWL's first and only authority on the NHL, the master of the mullet has returned to coaching. Barry led the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals aided by Wayne Gretzky and his non-bleeding head, yet they lost to the Canadiens in 5. Once TWWL dropped hockey, it truly became a red-headed stepchild of the network. It's once ample coverage was replaced by NASCAR and it seemed that they froze Melrose in carbonite most of the time, only bringing him out for short segments of hockey analysis. I'm a big fan of Melrose and the simple fact that he is coaching their makes me want to root for the team.
The Elegantly named two-headed monster: I don't know about you, but I never tire of pronouncing the names of the Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Place your freedom fries down for a second and recognize that these two help make Tampa's front line strong on the ice and exciting to watch. The two were big factors in the team's 2004 Stanley Cup victory.
Apropos naming: There is a phrase that says "What's in a name?", well since I live in the city of the Bob's cats, I say a hell of a lot when it comes to sports franchises. Tampa is recognized as the "Lightning Capital of North America" so someone was paying attention when the team was founded in 1992. It is a good name, unique to pro sports and enables many easily punned headlines. The Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators should have learned by example.
Trick my Tampa: New owners took the team over in June and since then, Oren Koules and Len Barrie have done a complete makeover of the team's management. They are reportedly involved in decision making which can be dicey for owners (right Jerry Jones?) but the key is that they are spending money. If owners are spending money, you at least know they are committed to winning. It would be a fun team to follow during this season to see if all the wild moves pay off.
Your city is far too prosperous: Besides being in a warm-weather climate and in near proximity to the beach, other reasons of jealousy can arise. From a strictly sports point of view, Tampa has bathed in championship gold compared to other long time sports towns. The Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002, the Rays are currently in the World Series after being horrible, and these same Lightning won the Cup in 2004. Tampa is not especially known for its wildly dedicated sports fans so perhaps we don't want to jump on board with front-runners.
Chemistry?: We have all seen what happens sometimes when a team is thrown together by ownership eager to win right away; see Dan Snyder. The owners of the Lightning have spent their money, but have they spent it wisely? They put a lot of offense on the ice with the additions Ryan Malone, Vaclav Prospal, and Radim Vrbata, but they may have neglected the defense which they were ranked 30th in last year. If they win, it is brilliant front office manuevering, but if they fail, well you remember the bad days of Dan Snyder in Washington right?
On a personal note: One of my exs, whom I had been dating for four years, moved to Tampa for medical school and promptly loss interest in me after about a month in the city. While this may be due to other factors, mostly my own faults, it provides good reason for me to give the /angry fist shake at the city and all sports teams who dwell in it. Petty reason? Maybe, but just ask Xtra Medium how bad he wanted the Red Sox to lose the ALCS.