What will happen tomorrow will be because of today. It sounds like a life coach cliche about doing the work now in order to have future success. Yet, it’s exactly that mindset that led to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Syracuse Crunch extending their affiliation agreement today for another 5 years.
Syracuse owner Howard Dolgon spoke highly of the deal, and spoke about what it means for the future. “We just finished ten years with Tampa, without question in our opinion the finest sports organization not just in the NHL but in all of sports. From top to bottom, from the ownership of Jeff Vinik, to management with Julien BriseBois, Mathieu Darche, and Stacey Roest. Their coaching staff. The players they’ve given us. Right down the line. I’d like to say we’re the envy of all the other teams in our league, and it’s great that we’re keeping them for a minimum of five more years.”
In ten years for the Lightning, the Crunch have helped produce a coach that was the fastest in NHL history to get to 400 wins, a world class winger in Nikita Kucherov, and a generational goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy. NHL Franchises need high quality affiliates to help them nurture and grow their prospects. As Dolgon stated, “Every team likes to talk the talk, but can they walk the walk. Tampa does both. They tell us, ‘we’re here to develop players, but we want to develop them under a winning environment.’”
While the Lightning have been to four Stanley Cup Finals and won back to back Stanley Cups in that time, the Crunch have had their share of postseason success, too. In that span, the Crunch came up short in two Calder Cup finals that saw them just two games short of a championship in both appearances.
Championships aren’t won overnight. They take methodical planning, organizational cooperation, and they take a commitment to do the right things at the right time. Jeffrey Vinik, the owner for the Tampa Bay Lightning, has shown his commitment to the Tampa Bay area, he’s found the right pieces to field a championship hockey team, and with the team’s latest commitment to Syracuse, he’s starting to cement his commitment to the future.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Is a cliche interview question for future employers, but “TampaCuse” is the answer for the Syracuse Crunch owner, “It’s just been a pleasure the past decade not only with the talent they’ve given us, but it’s turned us into an organization. People have coined the phrase ‘TampaCuse’, and it’s really accurate. I go to Tampa for games maybe once a month, and the ushers in the suites are asking me about the prospects. It’s really nice that we’ve meshed on a personal and business level.”
An organization has to have to continue building as an organization if you want to sustain success on and off the ice. It’s a cultural mindset that seems to permeate throughout the Lightning organization. It’s a culture that Dolgon believe’s Tampa has helped them establish, “We’ve had to up our game. We’ve had to make improvements in our facility. Which we’ve done beginning a few years back with suites, enhanced scoreboard. This past year we basically tore apart our training room, and it’s now like an NHL training room. We put in a video theater for the players and coaches. That’s NHL level, and I think you have to continue to do that if you want to attract players and you want your players to feel like they’re at a place that cares about them not only on the ice but off the ice as well.”
With this agreement fans can anticipate stability in both franchises future, and as Mr. Dolgon states, “Expect more of the same, high level of coaching, high level of talent, high character of players which is important in the community as well.”