On the heels of Dave Andreychuk finally being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, during this, the 25th anniversary season of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and a point in the franchise’s history where players’ numbers are being hoisted into the Amalie Arena rafters, perhaps it’s time to honor other notable achievements and achievers from Lightning history.
Please understand that “notable” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”.
In the still relatively brief history of the Tampa Bay Lightning, lots of things have happened, and they haven’t all been Stanley Cups and All-Star games. But, they occurred and it might be a good idea to remember them, for the sake of perspective if nothing else. Just to say “That happened.” No celebration, just an acknowledgement that, for better or worse, it existed and now, for better, it doesn’t.
I’m calling it The Lightning Hall of Relative Notoriety and I think it should be in an actual hallway somewhere at Amalie Arena, maybe leading to a mop closet or wherever they’re storing that giant Lightning logo that lit up and billowed smoke when lowered to the ice before games.
Here is the inaugural and undoubtedly incomplete list of nominees:
- “Bingo” Bob Shank, the mercilessly booed host of the Score-O intermission contest. Mr. Shank passed away in 2008.
- Phil Esposito’s fax machine, which “smudged” an offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers for free agent Chris Gratton. According to then-GM Esposito, the fax was illegible allowing Esposito to proceed with a trade of Gratton to the Chicago Blackhawks. That trade was voided by the NHL, who ruled the fax sufficiently un-smudged.
- The “rainstorm” alternate sweaters (1996-99). Even if you haven’t been rooting for the Lightning that long, you’re familiar with these things because there’s always at least one fan wearing one at every game. You see it from a distance, you recoil in disgust, you might even start laughing... but you kind of wish you had one.
- Corndogs and funnel cakes. Served at the then-Ice Palace concession stands during the Art Williams/Billy McGehee “era” because they apparently felt the team had lost touch with it’s state fair roots since moving out of the actual fairgrounds.
- Cory Cross. The number 4 is going to be retired forever, but not in honor of the first and only other member of the Lightning to wear it besides Vinny, defenseman Cory Cross between 1993 and 1999.
- Angus Charles Drogo Montague, the 12th Duke of Manchester. A wealthy member of the British Royal Family who was slated to invest $50 million dollars to help secure the franchise when it was launched, until it was determined that he neither was, nor had, any of those things.
- The Former Owners, all of which are nominated together. This includes Takashi Okubo, the franchise’s first owner, who may not actually exist. The previously mentioned Art Williams, who was in over his head from the beginning and whose teams were unwatchably bad, but deserves a ton of credit for getting the team’s finances in line and keeping them afloat. Bill Davidson, the Michigan-based owner who mostly forgot he ever even purchased a hockey team in the Tampa Bay region until they won the Stanley Cup in 2004. And of course Oren Koules and his “partner” Len Barrie, who made all of those other guys look great by comparison. (NOT ELIGIBLE: Burt Lancaster, the Lightning owner who fired J.T. Brown, because #FAKENEWS)
Please vote for your favorite in the poll. Or offer up your own write-in candidates in the comments!
Who should go into the Lightning Hall of Relative Notoriety?
This poll is closed
"Bingo" Bob Shank
The "rainstorm" alternates
The (former) Owners