"Buying the Lightning and joining the Tampa Bay community is a dream come true. I've been an avid hockey fan my whole life andI pledge to our fans that I will work my hardest to build the Lightning into a world class organization both on and off the ice. I hope to bring a high level of excitement and intensity back to Lightning hockey, with a goal of having the team consistently compete for the Stanley Cup. I have a passion for the game and will do my best to restore a winning culture at the St. Pete Times Forum that all of our fans and partners can be proud of."
-- Jeffrey Vinik
Jeffrey Vinik is formally in agreement to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise from OK Hockey Group, a press release from the team announced.
Vinik is also establishing Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. There was no further information presented besides the name. If it's simply the formal moniker for Lightning ownership, so be it...
But the question for Lightning fans right now is, where do we go from here?
I'm not talking about the on-ice product but the overall franchise in general. The immediate questions are not line-combos and player signings and transactions, but the direction of operations of one of the top venues in the world (St. Pete Times Forum), operations of the front office and event staff, all the logistical stuff that most do not take into account.
Sun Sports personality Paul Kennedy interviewed Mr. Vinik this morning:
OK Hockey founder and team president Oren Koules had these words about todays announcement::
“The day is a bittersweet one for us, as I believe we have established a strong foundation on the ice and begun to point things in a positive direction for the Lightning,” Koules said. “We look forward to seeing Jeff take the team from here and move it forward. I believe we are leaving him with some great pieces in place and hopefully he can build upon them to deliver a consistent winner in the future.”
This story will be developing through the day and the weekend, we'll try to keep you abreast with thoughts and observations as things go.