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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay could be in the Central Division next season

A temporary re-alignment could force some new rivalries.

Jim Campbell

There are a lot of pieces that the league needs to put together before the 2020-21 season kicks off. One of the blanks they have to fill in is a schedule. In order to figure out a schedule they have to set up some divisions. With a desire to limit travel (and the fact that the Canadian teams most likely won’t be able to cross the border) there will be a temporary re-alignment.

Reports are that the Lightning might find themselves in the Central Division.

A division with Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis brings back memories of the Lightning’s inaugural season when they were shoved into the Campbell Division. Perhaps they can open the season with a re-match of the franchise’s first game against the Blackhawks. Heck, since there aren’t likely to be fans in the building, why not reconstruct the rink at Expo Hall and play it there?

Columbus would be a fun team to play a lot of games against. NBC would probably broadcast Bolts vs. Pens in prime time on any number of their networks. Florida is Florida, they’ll probably be in any division the Lightning end up in. Nashville kind of makes sense for travel as well.

Even with a depleted roster, the Lightning would probably like their chances if they have to play all of their games against these opponents. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Columbus would probably be their toughest competition for the top of the throne.

There are a couple of odd things about this alignment- number one being that Pittsburgh in the East would make a little more sense. They would keep their rivalries with Philadelphia and Washington. Flip them with Carolina and it will also save a few miles for Tampa Bay and Florida.

These things are never perfect, and once the games are being played people tend to forget about how mad they were about it.

Lightning Links

It was Peter Abbandonato’s claiming the 20th spot on the Top 25 Under 25. The young forward should have an excellent chance to excel for the Syracuse Crunch if they have a season. [Raw Charge]

His skill set lies in his playmaking ability. He played center for most of junior career, but with Syracuse saw most of ice time on the wing. Like a lot of players in the system, he will likely spend time at all of the forward positions, but his path to the NHL will probably be on the wing. Abbandonato has excellent vision on the ice and the innate ability to put the puck in the right spot for his teammates.

In the organization, the only team that currently has a schedule for the 2020-21 season is the Orlando Solar Bears. Tracey provided an update on the team and the ECHL in general. [Raw Charge]

For the teams beginning in December, including Orlando, players can report to their respective training camps on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, with on-ice sessions to begin the next day. Opening Day rosters are due to the league on December 9th, two days before the start of the regular season.

Over the last decade the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation has given out $21.5 million to local groups through the Community Heroes program. On Thursday, over 100 of those recipients were invited to see the Stanley Cup. [Fox 13 News]

The Lightning had a new goaltender on the ice during an off-season workout. He looked pretty good stopping shots from a future hall-of-famer named Steven Stamkos. [Photo from Alex Killorn’s Instagram]

Around the NHL

Several reporters had columns concerning the NHLPA phone call from the other day that was held in response to the news that the NHL had approached them with a request for additional salary deferment for next season. [Sportsnet]

According to several sources, the league submitted two proposals. The first asked for changes solely to the upcoming season. Deferred compensation went to 20 per cent; escrow to 25. There were no other alterations.

The second asked for deferred compensation to be raised to 26 per cent for next season. Escrow was not touched until years four-to-six of the CBA, rising from six per cent to between 8.5 and nine.

An off-ice official that worked in Tampa filed a lawsuit stating that he was improperly fired from his job after reporting a colleague who had used “racist and sexually charged language” in the work place. [TSN]

[Laurance] Sullivan alleges that he reported [Pat] DeLorenzo’s behaviour to Ron Brace, the NHL’s former crew chief in Tampa. Sullivan alleges Brace failed to take any action for five years. The lawsuit does not specify when Sullivan reported DeLorenzo’s behaviour.

“The racial comments were so offensive and so pervasive that [Sullivan] began recording DeLorenzo’s racial comments at work,” the lawsuit says.

Random Poll Question:

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Which Restricted Free Agent is the first to sign a contract with the Lightning?

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  • 32%
    Anthony Cirelli
    (34 votes)
  • 20%
    Erik Cernak
    (22 votes)
  • 46%
    Mikhail Sergachev
    (49 votes)
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