(promoted from the fanposts --JPF)
Hello Mr. Vinik. Welcome to the Tampa Bay area and the St. Pete Times Forum.
Whoops, watch your step when you walk in the front door. That thing laying on the floor is The Bar. You know, the one that is traditionally raised or lowered by ones predecessor prior to starting a new endeavor? That's actually good news for you; you don't exactly have a tough act to follow. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that you're replacing the worst owners in the history of Tampa Bay professional sports.
There are some who will tell you that dubious distinction belongs to Hugh Culverhouse and/or Vince Naimoli, but both of those guys made their mistakes in the process of establishing brand new organizations from the ground up, not shredding the last remnants of pride and dignity from one that had recently won a championship. That's basically all Oren Koules and Len Barrie did, starting with the Dan Boyle debacle. Former coach John Tortorella called Koules and Barrie "cowboys". Coach Tortorella was a charitable man. Because real cowboys don't walk into the OK Corral and immediately take aim at their own feet. They did have awfully nice hair though, didn't they?
Anyway, they're gone and you're here. Let's move forward. I've gone to the trouble of preparing a "To Do (or in some cases, "To NOT Do") list...
- Don't trade the stars - Yeah, it's your team and you can do what you want and yeah, even Gretzky got traded and yeah, fans should know better than to get too emotionally attached to individual players in professional sports. But still, just don't do it. At least not right away.
- Do go to the games - Win or lose, fans like to look up at the owners box during a game and see the lights on. It speaks volumes about commitment.
- Don't be a jock sniffer - Koules got a huge kick out of skating with his players like he was one of them. It always reminded me of the time when Eddie Einhorn made the Chicago White Sox stop batting practice so he could find the keys he dropped while shagging balls with the players during spring training. That's bush league in the worst way and nobody wants to see it.
- Do spruce the place up - Coats of paint and some extra sweeping and scrubbing, at least in areas where patrons don't walk on carpet and sit on cushions, have been needed for some time now. Not sure why that hasn't been done before but that would be a nice gesture.
- Don't screw the employees - Just after the Rays started letting fans park at their games for free, Lightning ownership was charging employees who were coming to the games to work.
- Do make lots and lots of money - There aren't enough diehards in Tampa Bay to support an NHL team, but that's the case in MOST cities. If the team wins, people will buy tickets to watch them play, including the casual fans and front-runners. They've done it before and they'll do it again. If that puts some extra cash in your pockets, we really don't mind.
Look, ultimately we know that all professional sports owners are kind of like used car salesmen. Ultimately, we just hope to get one whose line of BS won't result in us being screwed. Which reminds me, what line of work were you in before you decided to buy a hockey team?