Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

6. Jeff Vinik Purchases The Tampa Bay Lightning

Date: March 3, 2010

The Tampa Bay Lightning has gone passed through the hands of quite a few people since the team’s inception all the way back in 1992. Some of them have been good, others…not so much.

When Phil Esposito first had the dream of bringing the sport of hockey to a place like Tampa Bay where there is sunshine and beaches in lieu of snow-covered hills and frozen ponds, the Lightning did not have the financial backing of some of the other teams in the National Hockey League, but at the end of the day they made it work with what they have and built an organization that would stand the test of time.

Unfortunately, all of the positivity that had been cultivated from the previous ownership slowly faded into darkness when movie and television producer Oren Koules and former NHL Player Len Barrie partnered to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008. There were all kinds of financial issues from the word go. Combine this with the partners fighting amongst themselves over just about anything, and you get a recipe for trouble.

In what went down as one of the worst trades in Tampa Bay Lightning history, the new Lightning owners basically threatened former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle to waive his no-movement clause. This led to Boyle bring traded to the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, another player who would be in search of a new home would be Stanley Cup Champion and Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards.

Despite the negativity, which was abundant in a time when a certain duo was in charge, the Tampa Bay Lightning has finally found someone who can help turn the team into the first class organization it is today. After the National Hockey League interjected themselves into the circus side show that had become the Tampa Bay Lightning back office, the Lightning finally found a brilliant man by the name of Jeff Vinik.

Jeff Vinik purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 3, 2010. Maybe we’re a little sentimental, but this was the breath of fresh air the Lightning organization needed. Not only has Vinik made stunning improvements to the Amalie Arena both inside and out, but he has really made an impact on the Tampa Bay community as well.

One of the many ways Vinik has contributed to the Tampa Bay area is through the Lightning Community Heroes Program. As most of you know by now, at each and every Tampa Bay Lightning home game, Vinik and the Lightning organization donate $50,000 to the charity of choice of a deserving member of the Tampa Bay Community.

In addition to the Community Heroes Program, the Tampa Bay Lightning has started a new program called Build the Thunder. One of the many aspects of the initiative will be to properly equip third through fifth graders and help teach them more about the game of hockey. They also pledged to help teach these children necessary life skills. The only way to guarantee the future of our community is to put in the work today.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has undergone quite a few changes on the ice as well. Bringing in a new Vice President and General Manager like Steve Yzerman and a new Head Coach like Jon Cooper has given the Tampa Bay Lightning two of the key pieces the organization needs to be successful.

It would be incredibly easy to go one about the many things Jeff Vinik and his family has done for the Lightning organization and the Tampa Bay community as a whole. We don’t know about you, but we are incredibly happy Jeff Vinik has come to Tampa and we hope he’ll be here for many years to come.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Drafts Vincent Lecavalier