The Tampa Bay Lightning came into the NHL as an expansion team the year I was born in 1992. Since I was born in the same place as the bolts, naturally I became a fan. Now Florida has never been known as a so called "Hockey Market", but from seeing videos of the team in the early years and getting a chance to go to a game as a little tike at Expo Hall, you got a sense this team deserved to be here. I don't really remember the game obviously because I was young but the fact that the lightning even got a team when the guys got dressed outside, sometimes next to a lake is pretty ridiculous. Now the NHL makes you have to have a rink already in place before you're even considered for a team.
Since the team is only 19 years old, a lot of talk as been made about the lightning not really having any traditions or specific things only the bolts do (sea of red, etc...), and honestly the critics are probably right. The bolts never took that approach to the fans, it was more of put a good hockey team on the ice and the fans will come (example this year...) but one thing I thought the bolts kind of stole from the Red Wing's "Hockeytown" but I liked was the cup year or the year after using "HockeyBay USA" as our team slogan. We need to bring back some of our past accomplishments to add to our bright future.
The Vinik-is the-Yzerman era has begun in the Bay and I think its time we combine the past with our future. The bolts will always have their ups and downs as we can see by the 12 games this year letting in 5 goals or more (roughly 1/4th of the games we have played), but Tampa Bay Lightning fans will always stay Lightning fans. We may not have the history as the Canadiens or Rangers or Red Wings, but we will get there eventually.
I had a few ideas for the bolts (no they aren't ridiculous like the jazz band they had for one season a few years ago) that might go a long way to helping establish the Lightning as a top franchise in the league...
1.) A retro jersey. Now everyone don't freak out, I know we just got a 3rd jersey not too long ago but a retro jersey could help bring back the old days.... Our original logo I thought was fine and our new one is a little odd and miss-shaped. I think a new jersey with a mix of a lot of royal blue, black, and silver would look really sharp. with a large bolts logo on the front... possibly even a big version of the shoulder patches with the florida outline and bolt. (EDIT: With new information out now about the team getting new jerseys for next year this option could be put on hold for a few years since they aren't getting rid of the BOLTS jerseys just yet)
2.) Thunderstix. These were a huge hit the cup year and need to be brought back NOW! The forum was insanely loud in the playoffs with these things and I would rather have thunder than waving towels.
3.) Weekend Blackouts/Whiteouts. This could be a seller for our weekend games or like Whiteout Weds. Getting the fans involved to help boost the bolts, especially on this homestand.
4.) Shirt off your back. Game worn jerseys... They did this at a game I went to possibly the cup year I can't remember, but they picked a bunch of random seats and the fans got to go down and meet the players on the ice and get their jersey off their back after the game.
5.) A Chant. I said this awhile back. "B-O-LTS" after we score a goal or the start of a period or both. Theme song (or team song/goal song) as well. I know individual players have a theme song like louie louie and hammer time but a team song that they play after they score a goal for example the Chicago Blackhawks who have "Chelsea Dager by The Fratellis as their song that the whole fan base now knows and sings along with clapping every time they score a goal (unbelievably annoying for any visiting team or fan). More ways to get the fans involved.
Feel free to vote on which you would like best or comment with an idea you have.
(EDIT: Edited my post here with some corrections. Trying to put a better product out there for you guys!) GO BOLTS!