Opening day for the Tampa Bay Lightning and you know what?
I had no clue it was today.
I had no clue start time was before noon here in the Tampa Bay television market. I had no clue what station it was going to be broadcast on -- nationally!...right?! This is an international game after all and... what? Sun Sports? Oh...
It's the perfect storm for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Tampa Bay sports market. An off-season of upheaval, a roster converted, a new coach whose claim to fame is television and the mullet he sports. Huge contracts, huge egos, new front office personnel and of course an entirely new roster. That was the events of this summer -- it's a long way away from the hype of "Seen Stamkos?".
And even with all the changes, it got lost in the mix of the news. Presidential election politics (yeah, that's a sport too -- just look at any partisan supporter online and you'll see someone not objective but a homer of one political bend or another), the Farve fiasco and continuing stupidity at One Buccaneer Place; and that little baseball team in St. Petersburg... I heard they are doing quite well too.
And where do the Lightning fit into all this? How much do you know about the new members of the roster? How much extra exposure have you seen to new cogs on this team? Odds are, you haven't seen shit besides billboards touting Vincent Lecavalier around the Tampa Bay area. That's a far cry to a team competing for fans in a marketplace.
All these distractions in the news, and O.K. Hockey not doing much in the way of marketing to get their name out... And what else has happened? The Bolts have to open the season in Europe. So while the coverage has been muted in the sports section of each local rag (with thanks to the Rays, the Buccaneers and college football), there is a further lack of exposure to roster moves, camp hype, position battles and all that jazz.
The puck dropped, the season has started. Now who in this marketplace is aware? Surely the die-hards, but beyond that?
There is a lot of noise in local sports right now and everything that has led up to this moment from the summer past has been drowned out, passed over or flat out forgotten. And that's a failing that will reverberate at one degree or another as the season goes on.