In this latest edition of Fan Sided, BoltsByTheBay spoke with 26-year-old, Wesley Chapel native Eli Medina. This long-time Bolts fan has become a staple for us here on the site – providing us with tips and news for us to cover. Medina jumped at the chance to become part of the news himself and asked for a Fan Sided feature.
My favorite moment with the Tampa Bay Lightning came in the summer of 2010. I was lucky enough to be able to take part in a Fantasy Hockey Camp (pictured) put on by the Bolt’s alumnae and sales office. This was a four day camp that involved NHL level on-ice drills ran by the likes of Dave Andreychuk, John Tucker, and Doug Crossman, nutritional education for game and non-game days, rare behind the scenes looks in the locker and equipment rooms, video review with Nigel Kirwan, and a full 60 minute regulation championship game. This was basically any hockey players dream come true, whether you are a Lightning fan or not. Making fans feel like you’re truly part of the Lightning organization has always been their strong suit. This event put the fan experience through the roof. The championship game was the perfect culmination for the week. I was on team Black which was coached by Bobby “The Chief” Taylor and featured Dave Andreychuk, and Doug Crossman. Team white was headed up by the living legend Phil Esposito and featured Brian Bradley and John Tucker. I’m proud to say (extremely proud, haha) to say that team Black won the gold. I had a shoot out goal and three assists for the night. I could go on and on about how much fun I had, but I’ll keep it short.
What other player in the NHL would you like to see playing for the Bolts and why? What would they add to the team?
This is actually a really tough question to answer. Guy’s system is unique and really seems to bring out the best in each of the players. It’s a fast paced, first to puck system that uses a load of hockey sense. With that being said, I would love to have the likes of a Logan Couture. The younger guys that have recently made their way to the NHL have been impressive in my opinion. I’m also taking his age into consideration. I can only imagine what kind of all around player he would become here in Tampa Bay.
What was your first experience with the Lightning a.k.a. When did you truly realize that you were a fan?
I would honestly say that it was around 2002-03. I was around 19 years old and had only watched hockey on TV before then. I fell in love with the game long before that, but Marty St. Louis won me over for the organization. I realized that this man had the heart and soul that could move mountains. The fact that the Lightning players and staff were so approachable really won me over. The fact that a game so fast paced and brutal had such nice people in and around it was amazing
Have you ever found yourself genuinely disappointed by a decision the team has made, be it a player that the team has released, a player that they signed that you thought was lacklustre, the hiring of a coach, etc.?
This is another hard question to answer. I try not to act like I know everything that goes on in the draft/trade/free agency process, so I won’t say that I could have done a better job at the decision making. One “disappointment” I had with the Lightning is with the previous regime. During an open question and answer segment at the forum, Mr. Koules just seemed annoyed to be there. At the time, rumors and chatter were coming about pertaining to the Lightning’s financial state. Towards the middle of the session, a fan asked about a bankruptcy rumor. Koules responded with a grin basically saying the lights are on, aren’t they? When you came in, you had a place to sit didn’t you? The air conditioning is on, isn’t it? Brian Lawton quickly took over and calmed everyone down, thank goodness. O.K. – so he didn’t curse the person out, but his looks of disgust and his little outburst just proved to me that there was something else going on. It was quite comical when everything came to light soon after.
What defines a ‘great’ team?
A great team is one that is surrounded by a great support staff from the top on down. The Lightning seems to want to play for Coach Boucher. They want to win for Mr. Yzerman and Mr. Vinik. The Bolts want to win for their fans. I think the greatness comes from the mental aspect that Guy has harped on so much in his young career. Once the guys are all on the same page mentally, I believe the game comes even more naturally. Synergy comes from trusting one another. Guy runs practices and game day activations for the mind and body. Yzerman and the ownership trust him to make these kinds of decisions which have obviously paid off. If the staff and ownership buy in to the process, it shows on the ice.
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 Eli on Twitter at @RTASupra and you can follow me, Ryan Bristlon, at @TampaBayWriting