Wayne Roberts is a man who loves hockey. When it comes to who to cheer for, the Tampa, Florida native can’t help but have hometown pride. But is deciding on who to cheer for dependent on where you’re from, or is there more to choosing the team to put your passion behind?
Roberts, 48, has been a Tampa Bay Lightning fan since the beginning, going to far as to build the site HockeyBay.com – a site that includes the teams history, videos, and photos that he, as a fan, would like to share with others. BoltsByTheBay met Roberts via Twitter and asked him about his years as a Bolts fan.
“Marty St. Louis’ triple overtime goal against Calgary in 2004,” said Roberts of his favourite Tampa Bay moment. “Waiting and biting off nails in triple overtime was the most exciting release of ‘we’re going to game 7′. I think any fan would agree.”
But Roberts admits that his favourite NHL club still has some weaknesses and that they don’t always make the right decisions.
“Letting Bergenheim and Gagne go after the recent Cup run was hard to swallow,” said Roberts. But he quickley added that “Yzerman knows what he’s doing.”
“The Oren Koules years were very disappointing, but that’s a given.”
So, in Roberts eyes, what would help? What are the Bolts still lacking?
Well, Roberts says he would like to see the team bring in a defenceman along the lines of Brian Leetch. Roberts says that a defenceman with the well-rounded, strong defensive skills with scoring ability would lead the Bolts to another Stanley Cup final.
“Defence, I feel, is still weak,” said Roberts.
With a new season ahead of us now, though, putting some of the teams less-than-perfect decisions in the past, there is still plenty to look forward to. One aspect is the rivalries of the Tampa Bay Lightning. As a Southern team, the Bolts take a lot of heat (pun intended) for not being a traditional hockey market, and Roberts loves the underdog aspect of that argument.
“It is simply fun to have some kind of rivalry in a non-traditional market such as Tampa. It’s funny hearing Caps’ fans dog us for not knowing NHL, but have yet to win a Cup with Ovechkin,” said Roberts. Roberts contiuned, saying he also looks forward to classic Bolts rivalries such as with the Florida Panthers and now, after being eliminated by them in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Bruins.
Roberts passion for his hometown team continues to grow each season and that won’t change as he says the Bolts meet his requirements of a ‘great team’. What makes a ‘great team’ accoding to Roberts?
“Leadership, commitment, confidence, and team work. And add a little bit of Steve Yzerman.”
If you would like to give some insight into what makes you a Bolts fan and share your stories with BoltsByTheBay, simply follow us on Twitter or email one of our writers. You can follow Wayne Roberts on Twitter at @HockeyBay and you can follow me, Ryan Bristlon, at @TampaBayWriting