BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Head coach Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning and his team react after their o to 1 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 27, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Before we go on vacation - the one in our minds since we're really not going anywhere (Right, Clark? Clark? Hey...CLARK?!) - there's just one more thing left to say before we move on to other more draft-like things. And it's something that all of have wanted to say all season long. So, here it goes.
There are so many people left to thank. (Cue the orchestra music, spotlight, solitary microphone, and heavy statuette that you could bludgeon someone with - not that I'm advocating violence here.) I think the solution here is bullet points. I love bullet points!
We'd also like to thank everyone for making Raw Charge a fun but respectful place to talk about hockey. So often, people get caught up in trying to promote their own team that civility goes out the window. That hasn't happened here very often. Opposing viewpoints are welcome and aired - even by fans of rival teams - but everyone's managed to be adult about it and not let it devolve into childish name calling and insults. So, thank you for that; that definitely makes our site a great place to hang out at. No matter who you are, or what team you're a fan of, everyone deserves respect and you guys make that happen.
We'd like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning players for validating our faith in them through these past three awful years. Without you guys, we'd have nothing to write about, which means we wouldn't have made all of these great new friends. You share your love of hockey with us, and for that we're grateful. Thank you for a fantastic season.
And a big thank you to head coach Guy Boucher and his coaching and training staff. For obvious reasons. There weren't that many player personnel changes between last season and this season, but for some strange reason Boucher was able to get more from his team than the previous head coach did. We love your passion and your head games with the media, and we look forwards to many years as you being head coach of the Lightning. So thank you, and welcome to the nut house!
Thank you, Steve Yzerman, for bringing credibility to a team that sorely lacked it. The Lightning are still often dismissed as a "Sun Belt" team (in quotes because it's often used as an insulting term), but at least the rumors of it being unsuccessful and on the verge of moving have finally died down. For now, at least. And thank you for bringing along your Red Wing fan base with you! And, you know, you're a pretty good JM...er, GM...too!
- First off, I want to thank our regulars on Raw Charge. You all know who you are. You come from all corners of the globe: Czech Republic, New Zealand, England, Brazil, etc.; but also from all parts of Canada and the US. You're al awesome, and we love you for keeping up with our crazy and zany ways. You're the best!
- Thank you to all of the hockey fans from just about every NHL team, stopping by to hang out with us on game threads and leaving comments on our stories. We've had people who represented most of the Eastern Conference, as well as a few from the Western conference, stop in and say hi. We love the different perspectives you share with us.
- Over the course of the playoffs, we had a couple of New York Rangers fans who are regulars on Blueshirt Banter hang out with us for many of the games, but a number of other BSB regulars came by as well. We've also had a number of Florida Panthers fans from Litter Box Cats adopt us for the duration as well. And we can't forget the back-to-back game threads that we'd have with the LBC crowd during Lightning-Panthers regular season games - those were fun! Then, at the end of the series with the Boston Bruins, we had a large group from Nucks Misconduct camp out with us waiting to see who their Vancouver Canucks would be playing. Other fan bases that have hung out with us en masse over the course of the season were fans from the Philadelphia Flyers and Broad Street Hockey, as well as Detroit Red Wings fans from Winging It In Mowtown, New York Islanders fans at Lighthouse Hockey, and New Jersey Devils fans from In Lou We Trust. So we'd like to thank those particular SB Nation sites for supporting us as well.
I want to thank Tod Leiweke for coming to the Lightning as well. Most fans probably don't understand what his role with the team is, so let me tell you. It's from his offices things like watch parties on the St. Pete Times Forum Plaza and dying the Garrison Channel blue come from. He's the guy who's making the fan experience in Tampa Bay a better one, and he's done a great job so far. And we should all be thankful for that.
Thank you Tampa Bay Lightning (the organization as a whole). The team has been very helpful and supportive of us, and we just can't thank them enough for that. From letting Meredith and Clark have media access, to putting us on their media list for announcements, to promoting our site on Twitter...they've been wonderful to work with. A lot of NHL teams won't even acknowledge bloggers, let alone work with them, and the Lightning have been great in working with us and treating us like the traditional media. The Washington Capitals may have the most liberal policy in regards to treating bloggers like media, but Tampa Bay isn't too far behind. So thank you for giving us a chance to prove ourselves to you.
We'd also really want to thank majority owner Jeff Vinik for coming through on all of his promises. All new owners make stirring promises to their new team's fan base, but few actually follow through with them. And Mr. Vinik has - with bells on. So thank you, Mr. Vinik, from the bottom of all of our hockey hearts.
A couple of personal thank you's from me:
- I'd like to thank the Norfolk Admirals for granting me media credentials. I live in Virginia, thought I'm an almost 3-hour drive from Norfolk, and they've been great in helping me with anything I've requested or needed from them. I wish I could do more, especially since they've been so generous, but the distance doesn't exactly make them convenient. Still, they were just as great with us as the Lightning have been, and I can't thank them enough for that.
- I'd also like to thank the NHL for granting me credentials to the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina, this past January. It was an experience of a lifetime, and it was very interesting to see such an event as a member of the media. Meeting national traditional media and comparing notes and getting tips was pretty exciting. The NHL has been fantastic in working with SB Nation and has granted writers from our sites access to events such as the All-Star Game, the Winter Classic, the Entry Draft, and the Awards Show, and I'm very thankful that I got to be a part of a major NHL event.
Thanks for a great season, everyone! We'll have more this week and on into the summer. Hope you have a great offseason, and remember to come drop in on our Tuesday night open threads at 7:30 pm Eastern all summer long.