Four years ago today, the Tampa Bay Lightning were on the downswing. Oh, sure, the ability of then-rookie Steven Stamkos was starting to cast a ray of hope on a disappointing season, but things were not right for the franchise residing at 401 Channelside Drive. Rick Tocchet was coaching as an Interim Head Coach after the firing of Barry Melrose months earlier; a cast of 2008 acquistions via trade and free agency had failed either productively, physically, or financially for the still-neophyte ownership group.
Four years ago, the Times Palace Massacre hadn't yet occurred - with various long-time staff jettisoned in a cost-cutting move for a team bleeding red ink. The disagreements and infighting between Oren Koules and Len Barrie hadn't yet been made public (nor Len Barrie's inability to contribute financially as a responsible owner).
Four years ago, rock bottom hadn't been hit yet by the franchise, and the rebound via Jeff Vinik wouldn't take place for nearly a year...
It was tough to be a fan four years ago. You hoped things would get better, but you'd find out they'd remain mediocre at best for a while longer. Yet, four years ago today, Cassie McClellan and I launched this web site on the SB Nation Network.
Raw Charge has covered the Bolts through three full seasons (and two partial ones). Since then, we've been credentialed for an NHL draft (2010), an NHL All-Star game (2011), countless home games at the Tampa Bay (nee St. Pete) Times Forum, Scottrade Center and Scope Arena (home of the AHL Norfolk Admirals).. We've covered a playoff run, a vast rebranding of the team and have beheld (with awe) the transformation of the organization from a simple vessel to a World Class OrganizationTM (cheers, Mr. Vinik, Mr. Leiweke, and all the other executive staff)..
It's the perpetual promise of better days (something that fans at the moment can truly appreciate) that keeps us going. It should be the same with just about any die-hard fan: you take the lumps with the club, you live the hardships, but it makes the better days that much a sweeter time to experience and be appreciative of.
So, 1,461 days later; 208 weeks and 5 days, we say "thanks" for your readership. For what it's worth, the Lightning's 12th place standing in the Eastern Conference at current is exactly where they were this time four years ago. So in that regard, not much has changed...
...But everything else has, for the better. We're glad you're with us for the ride so far..