“Marketing used to be easy. If you had a used car lot and you offered free hot dogs and balloon animals for the kids on a Saturday, a few extra people might show up and buy some cars. If not, oh well, I guess nobody was hungry or in the market for an inflatable pet. Try the same thing again next month and hope for a better turnout. Now, it’s all about data capture and targeting specific demographics with focused messaging.
It’s about time we here at Raw Charge jumped on this and started capturing data from you, our dear and respected readers, for the sake of manipulating you.” - Me, in an article here on Raw Charge, Oct 20, 2017
The regular season is over and the data, such as it is/was, has been captured. Let’s take a look at what you said...
With this being the Lightning’s 25th season, there were lots of opportunities to be nostalgic and look back at the history of the franchise. The first poll was about the reunion event held at the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, the first “arena” the Bolts called home.
THE QUESTION: What were you most surprised to experience at the Lightning’s triumphant return to Expo Hall?
23 of you answered and:
- 35% of you said: “They played HOCKEY in here?!?”
- 22% of you said: Beer rolled back to 1992 prices of .35 a glass
- 17% of you said: Gangs of 4H hooligans hanging around outside and intimidating people
A week later, we engaged in an exercise in schadenfreude.
THE QUESTION: Whose fans are you most happy to see trudge miserably out of Amalie Arena after a Lightning win over their team?
189 of you answered and:
- 23% of you said: Boston Bruins
- 22% of you said: Pittsburgh Penguins
- 16% of you said: Chicago Blackhawks
14 games into the season, we finally addressed the team itself and their 10-2-2 record at the time.
THE QUESTION: Are the Tampa Bay Lightning off to more than a good start yet?
300 of you answered and:
- 51% of you said: Yes, but not nearly far enough along to get too excited about it.
- 37% of you said: Yes. We’re far enough along to be “for real”. Relax and enjoy what should be a great season!
- 7% of you said: No. The amount of games played is not enough to make any kind of evaluation yet.
That was followed with a query about how you follow the team when they travel west.
THE QUESTION: Well... ??
94 of you answered and:
- 63% of you said: I don’t care where it’s played; I stay up and watch and/or listen to the entire game from start to finish because I’m a real fan.
- 30% of you said: I check the scores from around the league when I wake up the next morning because I’m not a maniac.
- 5% of you said: I set an alarm to wake up and hopefully catch the end of the game or at least find out the score right after because I’m a real fan but I have to get up early.
With Dave Andreychuk’s selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame, we went back to the nostalgia well to celebrate somewhat less-than HOF-worthy Lightning elements.
THE QUESTION: Who should go into the Lightning Hall of Relative Notoriety?
103 of you answered and:
- 35% of you said: The “rainstorm” alternate (uniforms)
- 31% of you said: The (former) Owners
- 15% of you said: Phil’s fax
As November was coming to an end, we asked what had surprised you about the team’s performance up to that point.
THE QUESTION: What’s the biggest surprise so far this season?
65 of you answered and:
- 32% of you said: Overall play of Mikhail Sergachev
- 26% of you said: A road record of 8-0-1
- 17% of you said: Steven Stamkos leading the league in Assists
The NHL’s Centennial Fan Arena Tour, a celebration of the National Hockey League’s 100 years of existence, rolled through town in December at no charge to visitors. This inspired us to ask you about your favorite freebies.
THE QUESTION: What’s your favorite free Lightning activity?
54 of you answered and:
- 26% of you said: Fan Fest
- 19% of you said: The delightful polls and other articles by Clark Brooks at Raw Charge (please don’t vote for this cheap pandering; as much temporary gratification as it will give me, ultimately it will make me sad for you) Aww!
- 17% of you said: Watching home games at Thunder Alley
With the season approaching the halfway point, we thought it would be fun to see who among the non-marquee players were your favorites.
THE QUESTION: Who is your favorite unsung hero on the Lightning?
153 of you answered and:
- 64% of you said: Yanni Gourde
- 10% of you said: Dan Girardi
- 8% of you said: Jake Dotchin
The next poll was basically about how the holidays exist for no other purpose than ruining our lives.
THE QUESTION (or more accurately, THE PROPOSITION): “If this one holiday-related thing went away, I could enjoy more Lightning hockey”
120 of you answered and:
- 22% of you said: Shopping and shopping and shopping
- 21% of you said: Most of my relatives. Period.
- 16% of you said: Most of my relatives I don’t interact with the rest of the year
To ring in the New Year, we asked for your resolutions on behalf of the NHL.
THE QUESTION: What would you like to see the NHL do to improve itself in 2018?
66 of you answered and:
- 27% of you said: Tighten up the on-ice officiating
- 24% of you said: Hurry up and bring back alternate uniforms
- 20% of you said: A new, better, good TV deal
In early January, the league rolled out the uniforms to be worn by participants in the upcoming All-Star game.
THE QUESTION: Are you buying a Steven Stamkos 2018 NHL All-Star Game jersey?
69 of you answered and:
- 42% of you said: Nope.
- 36% of you said: No, I’ll just get a t-shirt or a hat or something and continue to enjoy uninterrupted electric service in my home.
- 9% of you said: Maybe. I’m weighing my options and may pay my electric bill instead.
Having passed the halfway point the season, we wanted to know where the Lightning stood in terms of meeting your pre-season expectations.
THE QUESTION: “The Lightning have...”
89 of you answered and:
- 72% of you said: Far exceeded my expectations. Because I thought they’d be good, but not THIS good.
- 24% of you said: Exceeded my expectations a little bit. Because this is about what I expected.
Around that time, the upstart Las Vegas Golden Knights were the talk of the league. As fans of an expansion team in a “non-traditional market”, we figured we were qualified to weigh in on their success.
THE QUESTION: “I think the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights are doing so well in their inaugural season is...”
326 of you answered and:
- 40% of you said: Great! Welcome to the NHL!
- 40% of you said: No big deal. It’s not like they’re cheating or anything and there’s no reason a team should be lousy just because they’re new.
- 20% of you said: Terrible! It’s an affront to the teams in this league that have paid their dues.
All-Star Weekend (and Gasparilla) finally arrived!
THE QUESTION: How will you spend All-Star/Gasparilla weekend in Tampa Bay?
67 of you answered and:
- 39% of you said: I’d like to go but I think traffic is going to be a nightmare so I’ll watch on TV.
- 18% of you said: I’m going to the skills competition and the game.
- 13% of you said: I’m going to Gasparilla AND all the All-Star stuff I can get to (I plan to be dead by Monday)
Following that, it was time to set our sites on the season’s second half.
THE QUESTION: What are you looking for in the “second half”?
152 of you answered and:
- 34% of you said: A couple of key moves at the trade deadline
- 25% of you said: More of what we’ve seen so far, that’s all
- 15% of you said: The postseason picture coming into clearer focus
With the trade deadline looming, we went back to the previous off-season for your current evaluation of the players acquired then, specifically Mikhail Sergachev, Chris Kunitz, and Dan Girardi.
THE QUESTION: What do you think of the “new” additions to this year’s Lightning roster?
220 of you answered and:
- 45% of you said: I was happy with all of these deals when they were made and I’m still happy with them
- 18% of you said: I didn’t like any of these moves at the time but I’m thrilled with how all three have worked out
The middle of February arrived and we developed wanderlust, helped in part by the annual Bolts “Dad’s Road Trip”.
THE QUESTION: Where are you going with the Lightning and what are you doing when you get there?
134 of you answered and:
- 30% of you said: New York, against the Rangers or Islanders and trying (and probably failing) to get tickets to see “Hamilton”.
- 21% of you said: Los Angeles, against the Kings and touring some movie studios
- 11% of you said: Winnipeg, against the Jets and finding the longitudinal centre of Canada
As the season began to wind down, the Lightning saw their sizable lead shrink and we wondered if apprehension was setting in.
THE QUESTION: What Eastern Conference team concerns you as a potential threat to the Lightning?
371 of you answered and:
- 61% of you said: Boston Bruins
- 25% of you said: Pittsburgh Penguins
- 9% of you said: Toronto Maple Leafs
At the trade deadline, the Lightning made one big trade, acquired Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller, and sending Vladislav Namestnikov to the New York Rangers. Of course, there were other deal throughout the NHL. We asked who made the best one.
THE QUESTION: Who won this year’s Tradely Cup?
222 of you answered and:
- 75% of you said: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING - Get Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller
- 7% of you said: NOBODY - Gets Erik Karlsson
- 6% of you said: BOSTON BRUINS - Get Rick Nash
Middle of March, and a case of the warm-and-fuzzies struck, due to the Florida Panthers and the kindness they showed to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school hockey team.
THE QUESTION: What is your favorite Tampa Bay Lightning community initiative?
17 of you answered and:
- 65% of you said: “Lightning Community Heroes”
- 29% of you said: The “Lightning Made Hockey” program
- 6% of you said: “Celebration of the Arts”
Once the Lightning clinched a berth in the postseason, the stakes were lowered and the anxiety level dropped considerably. With that out of the way, we wondered what everyone was panicking over instead.
THE QUESTION: With the Lightning already in the playoffs, what are you worried about now?
285 of you answered and:
- 57% of you said: The Lightning avoiding injuries
- 24% of you said: The Lightning winning the Atlantic Division
- 12% of you said: The Lightning winning the President’s Trophy
With lower stakes, the Lightning seemed to lack motivation to close the season out in a strong, convincing manner. As the season dwindled down to the last couple of days, they found themselves seeking assistance in locking down the division title and securing home ice against Eastern Conference opponents.
THE QUESTION: To whom can the Lightning turn for help?
121 of you answered and:
- 56% of you said: Themselves - ultimately, the answers lie within
- 23% of you said: The Florida Panthers - play Boston twice in the last five games
- 10% of you said: Obi Wan Kenobi - our only hope
With only a couple of days remaining in the regular season, things still hadn’t been settled, which troubled some people. With how thoroughly dominating the Lightning had been for a majority of the regular season, the finish appeared weak by comparison, and apprehension over how well they might do in the playoffs was on people’s minds.
THE QUESTION: Are you happy with HOW the Lightning have gotten to where they are this season?
170 of you answered and:
- 36% of you said: Yes. Compared to not making the playoffs, but I wish they were heading in with some momentum.
- 22% of you said: Yes. The only thing that matters is making the playoffs.
- 19% of you said: No. This stretch run has exposed some serious weaknesses and I have doubts that I didn’t have a few weeks ago.
All right. The season ended with the Lightning on top of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. First playoff opponent - the New Jersey Devils. No more screwing around. Just tell us who’s going to win.
THE QUESTION: Who is going to win Round 1?
370 of you answered and:
- 40% of you said: Lightning in 5 games
- 40% of you said: Lightning in 6 games
- 5% of you said: Lightning in 4 games
With the Lightning up 3 games to 1 and the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights having already vanquished their first round opponents, we wondered who you thought was going to move on. The Lightning were not a poll answer because they had not yet finished the series and we do not believe in taunting karma.
THE QUESTION: Who (else) is definitely moving on to Round 2 of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs?
221 of you answered and:
- 26% of you said: Boston Bruins
- 19% of you said: Nashville Predators
- 17% of you said: Pittsburgh Penguins
Prior to their second round match-up against Boston, the only question to ask was how the Lightning would do against the Bruins.
THE QUESTION: Who is going to win Round 2?
239 of you answered and:
- 35% of you said: Lightning in 6 games
- 26% of you said: Bruins in 6 games
- 14% of you said: Lightning in 7 games
With the Lightning well into their second round series with the Boston Bruins, it was time to make fun of the teams that were eliminated in the first round and question their worthiness of even being there.
THE QUESTION: Who should never have made this year’s playoffs?
127 of you answered and:
- 27% of you said: New Jersey Devils
- 22% of you said: Philadelphia Flyers
- 13% of you said: Anaheim Ducks
The Lightning made surprisingly short work of the Bruins (only 8% of you predicted Lightning in 5 games) to move on to face the Washington Capitals for the Eastern Conference title. Naturally, there was only one question to ask...
THE QUESTION: Who is going to win the Eastern Conference Championship?
322 of you answered and:
- 34% of you said: Lightning in 6 games
- 21% of you said: Lightning in 5 games
- 20% of you said Capitals in 6 games
Halfway through the Conference Final, during which the Lightning won games 3 and 4 on the road, we wanted to know your preference for gathering to watch road games.
THE QUESTION: What’s you favorite watch party location?
111 of you answered and:
- 36% of you said: Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa
- 21% of you said: I don’t go to the watch parties; big crowds are not my thing, man
- 14% of you said: Centro Ybor
In summation: Those things happened. Would have liked to have done at least one more poll but it wasn’t meant to be. Next year, more and different things will happen.