The Tampa Bay Lightning held a press conference today to introduce a new business model they will use going forward. There will be several announcements over the next three days that will layout the entire plan that Chairman Jeff Vinik and C.E.O Tod Leiweke have in store for the organization (in consultation with Lightning and St. Pete Times Forum COO Steve Griggs).
The most key part of a new brand is obviously its logo, and that is one aspect the team revealed today. Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos introduced the new home and away uniforms, which have a comic-book-meets-Toronto-Maple-Leafs feel to them. The team was going for classic, simple, and something that could stand the test of time.
Of course only time will tell whether they do stand that test, but immediate reaction from fans seems to be negative. Personally, I think it’s hard to create a “classic” jersey when you are not a “classic” team. The team is still less than 20 years old. It isn’t a “classic” NHL team, and maybe it shouldn’t try to be. There is nothing traditional about this team from their playing style to their market, so why try to make it something it isn’t?
However, a simpler logo was overdue. The simpler the logo, the easier to brand. You want something kids can doodle in their notebooks when they are bored in class, and the old logo was not very conducive to that. The colors are also basic, but most fans will probably miss the black and silver.
It will take some getting used to, but hopefully it sticks because these visuals represent a deeper change in the organization that the fan base should be thrilled about: they are “All-In”.
For a team that has had ownership and stability problems, it is a huge sigh of relief that Vinik and Leiweke are making these changes. They are making it their team, meaning they intend to stick around for the long haul. Vinik talked at the press conference about investing in the fan base, the players, and the franchise. No one has been willing to do that for hockey in Florida in a long time.
In the presentation, the Lightning listed excellence, competitive, relentless, innovative, respectful, and authentic as the values they are going to focus on going forward. It was also announced that Phil Esposito and Dave Andreychuk will be playing a larger role in things, which should also quell some stability concerns in the fan base.
Perhaps the most innovative part of today’s announcement pertained to season ticket holders. Each season ticket holder will receive one of the new jerseys from the team. This jersey will have a small chip in it that can be scanned for discounts at St. Pete Times Forum. The discount will be 25% off concessions and 35% off merchandise.
The general message was a good one: ownership is taking control and revamping the team off the ice to reflect its on-ice turnaround. This season could very well mark a turning point for the team, as they have young talent that can keep the winning going for years to come. The jerseys will take some getting used to for most, but the representation is good. We will learn more of the plan in the coming days but so far, it’s looking like a good move for a franchise that wants to be taken more seriously.
What do you guys think of the changes?