A picture's worth a thousand words...

...and this picture reflects so many words about the ill conceived notions of building the 2008-09 Tampa Bay Lightning. (credit Alan Snel)

From champion to bottom dweller. The attendance fall-off didn't happen over night... or did it?

(most attendance stats from Andrews Stars Page)

Now, for the benefit of the doubt, the game last night was for bragging rights of the Southeast cellar dwellers. The "rivalry" between the Lightning and Thrashers just doesn't make up for two sub par teams going at it.

All that being said, it's a steep drop between last season and this season so far with attendance. Things fell apart last season around the trade deadline and the rumors (and then loss) of Brad Richards didn't help things.

And now? Starting the season in Europe didn't help, starting the season with a revamped team that hadn't been marketed well to the fans didn't help. Having a bombastic head coach known from TV and a lone Cup appearence didn't help. Playing Music Chairs with the roster hasn't helped. Injuries and overall instability of the team hasn't encouraged turnout.

Besides freebies and give-aways, how do you fix things? Winning helps, but how do you get back to winning?