Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment LLC, a group owned by Jeff Vinik, has purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning, the lease to the St Pete Times Forum and over 5 acres surrounding the Forum subject to approval from the leagues other owners.
“Buying the Lightning and joining the Tampa Bay community is a dream come true,” Vinik said. “I’ve been an avid hockey fan my whole life and I pledge to our fans that I will work my hardest to build the Lightning into a world class organization both on and off the ice. I hope to bring a high level of excitement and intensity back to Lightning hockey, with a goal of having the team consistently compete for the Stanley Cup. I have a passion for the game and will do my best to restore a winning culture at the St. Pete Times Forum that all of our fans and partners can be proud of.”
This is no surprise to people who follow hockey as this deal has been in place for weeks.
The question that remains is the purchase price, and what happens to our roster now that a man known for managing money shrewdly, takes over our team. There were multiple reports that Vinik wanted to immediately trade Vincent Lecavalier, but that Gary Bettman was negotiating a clause in the purchase agreement that barred Vinik from doing so for at least 3 seasons.
“I’m really proud, when we got here we were last in everything and we’ve put together a system where as of today, we’re top 15 in prospects and both our AHL team and our NHL is currently in a playoff spot,” outgoing owner Oren Koules told ESPN.com Friday. “A lot of credit goes to GM Brian Lawton. We put in a lot of work here. The hockey side of this organization was in disarray when we took over 19 months ago.”