From the Press Box: Saying so long and hello (again)
Welcome to "From the Press Box", where Raw Charge's reluctant-yet-enthusiastic correspondent in the Amalie Arena press box, Clark Brooks, takes you behind the scenes of the exciting world of watching hockey from the rafters for the purpose of writing articles about it.
The best thing about having a team-issued credential to cover the Lightning is that I'm a Lightning fan, and I like to believe that being a credentialed member of the media allows me to be an ambassador on behalf of fellow fans who will never get to experience the game of hockey that way. Through this weekly column, I'll be sharing peeks behind the magical media curtain with you. Today, we're going to talk about fallout from the recently completed trade deadline activity.
There are few things hockey fans anticipate with equal measures of glee and dread than the annual trade deadline. “Who are we gonna get?” and “Who are we gonna lose?” battle it out every year, with the intensity ratcheting up in the preceding days until the final frenzy of activity in the hours before the clock hits 3:00.
Now that this year’s madness is over, it’s time to calm down, take a breath, and offer some observances on some of the players that have come and gone. Not from a fancy-stats, deep analysis of what their expected presence or absence means to the Lightning, nor what their salary cap impact is. There are writers better suited for that kind of thing. These are just the observations of one lowly blogger whose knowledge of fancy stats and salary caps would be best described as non-existent, and who is more of a touchy-feely, personal interaction kind of guy.
BEN BISHOP - Everybody loves Big Ben. I think my colleagues here at Raw Charge did an absolutely top-notch job of an appropriately thorough send-off for arguably the best goalie to ever suit up for the Bolts, in which I was able to offer my favorite memory from his time here. My second favorite was the time he “threatened” to never speak to me again until I replaced my “Clark the Cub” lanyard with something less offensive to a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan like him. I told him I’d gladly wear a “Clark the Cardinal” lanyard if he got me one. Since he couldn’t produce one, because there’s no such thing, we declared a truce.
BRIAN BOYLE - I didn’t talk to him much but he was very pleasant to deal with when I did. He was good with thoughtful quotes and not afraid to face questions after a bad performance, and clearly deserving of all the accolades he got for his leadership ability. There’s already speculation out there that he could return to the Lightning as an unrestricted free agent prior to next season. That’s both premature and inappropriate at this point, though.
VALTTERI FILPPULA - One thing that has never changed over all the years and under all the different ownerships in the history of the franchise is that, aside from a relatively small handful of notable exceptions (ie: Nikolai Khabibulin) the Lightning just do not go out and get well-known, established, skilled players in the prime of their careers. Generally, it’s always been unproven prospects with hoped-for upside, veterans whose best years are behind them, or middle-of-the-road guys unlikely to have much influence one way or another on a teams’ direction. Filppula was something of a departure from that established pattern. Brought in at the age of 29 from the Detroit Red Wings, he had established himself as a playmaker for a perennial contender with a Stanley Cup championship under his belt. I don’t recall talking to him one-on-one. I do know that he was here for almost four years, playing 292 regular season games and another 47 in the playoffs and I never, not once, spelled his name correctly without the aid of some external reference.
MARK STREIT - Please insert Sam Gagner and Kyle Quincey jokes here.
MIKE McKENNA - In a previous life, long before becoming a hockey blogger, I worked at The Worst Hotel In Tampa. When McKenna was brought up from Norfolk of the AHL in February of 2009 due to an injury to Olaf Kolzig (Do you remember when Olaf Kolzig played for the Lightning? Do you remember that Olaf Kolzig played for the Lightning?!?) to make his NHL debut, management put him up in our hotel, The Worst Hotel In Tampa. Considering the ownership/management situation with the Lightning at the time (what should probably just be referred to as the “post-Palace Sports, pre-Vinik era”), that actually makes sense as it was a pretty even match in terms of how both organizations were operated. But as such, I got to talk to Mike on occasion and gave him rides to the arena in the hotel shuttle van sometimes. That was kind of cool. He was a nice guy, very funny. That, judging by his Twitter output, along with that hotel continuing to be The Worst Hotel In Tampa, hasn’t changed. Even if the likelihood of getting back in net for the Lightning is kind of slim right now, it’s nice to have him back.