Under the Big Top - An OK Hockey / Lightning Time Line

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been compared to the circus. Raw Charge gives you the play-by-play on the transactions leading the team to where they are.

John and I put our heads together and came up with an OK Hockey time line of travesty. Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights?) of Lightning hockey since they've taken control of the franchise. Buckle up, grab some tissue, and remember that your keyboad isn't waterproof - or ruggedized, for that matter. And please, don't shoot the messengers. We're just trying to make sense of this disaster same as you are.

Let's start at the very beginning, shall we?

  • August 7th, 2007. Absolute Hockey (Doug MacLean, Jeff Sherrin and producer Oren Koules) announce intentions to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club from Palace Sports and Entertainment.
  • November 27th, 2007. Absolute Hockey's deal with Palace Sports falls through after not paying Palace Sports a 5 million dollar deposit. Oren Koules withholds money to cancel the deal. Partners Sherrin and MacLean sue.
  • December 2007. OK Hockey is formed, as is a second group seeking to purchase the Lightning (with former members of Absolute Hockey involved).
  • December 20, 2007. Settlement reached between OK Hockey and Doug MacLean/Jeff Sherrin. The deal reduces the suitors for the Lightning franchise to one - Koules lead OK Hockey group.
  • February 25, 2008. D Dan Boyle signs a 6-year, $40 million contract with a no-trade clause.
  • February 26, 2008. C Brad Richards and G Johan Holmqvist are traded to Dallas for C Jeff Halpern, LW Jussi Jokinen, G Mike Smith, and a 2008 4th round draft pick.
  • April 2008. The Tampa Bay Lightning ends the 2007-2008 season 30th overall in the NHL, with a record of 31-42-9.
  • June 3, 2008. Head coach John Tortorella is fired.
  • June 20, 2008. C Steven Stamkos is drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.
  • June 24, 2008. Barry Melrose is hired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • June 25, 2008 Hired former-NHL-player-turned-agent Brian Lawton as the team's Vice President of Hockey Operations; also serving in the capacity as acting General Manager.

June 28, 2008. LW Ryan Malone signs a seven-year, $31.5 million contract. Team announces hiring of Malone's father, Greg, as head pro scout.

  • July 4, 2008. D Dan Boyle and D Brad Lukowich are traded to San Jose for D Matt Carle, D Ty Wishart, a 2009 1st round draft pick, and a 2010 4th round draft pick.
  • July 11, 2008. General Manager Jay Feaster quietly resigns.

  • July 13, 2008. C Vincent Lecavalier signs an 11-year, $85 million contract extension.
  • August 29, 2008. D Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard, and a 2009 1st round draft pick are traded to Ottawa for D Andrej Meszaros.
  • September 16, 2008. Training camp opens in Tampa, Florida, with 26 forwards, 13 defensemen, and 4 goaltenders in attendance.

  • October 6, 2008. D Shane O'Brien and RW Michel Ouellet are traded to Vancouver for D Lukas Krajicek and RW Juraj Simek.
  • October 21, 2008. Elevated Brian Lawton to the position of Executive Vice President and General Manager.

    October 21, 2008. LW Matt Pettinger was picked up off waivers from Vancouver. Pettinger was a minority owner in Bear Mountain resort owned by part-owner Len Barrie.

  • November 7, 2008. D Matt Carle and a 2009 3rd round draft pick are traded to Philadelphia for D Steve Eminger, RW Steve Downie, and a 2009 4th round draft pick.
  • November 13, 2008. D Janne Niskala is granted the request to be waived so he can play in Sweden.
  • November 15, 2008. Barry Melrose is fired 16 games into the season. Assistant coach Rick Tocchet is promoted to interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

    December 8, 2008. RW Radim Vrbata is granted permission to leave the team so he can play in the Czech Republic.

    December 19, 2009. LW Jussi Jokinen is placed on waivers and is not claimed nor sent to the minors.

    January 14, 2009. While the team was in California, rumors are flying that there's a deal in the works between Tampa Bay and Montréal to trade Lecavalier. Lightning GM Brian Lawton flatly denies the rumors that he has been shopping Lecavalier.

    February 4, 2009. LW Jussi Jokinen is placed on waivers for the second time, and is again not claimed nor sent to the minors.

  • February 7, 2009. LW Jussi Jokinen is traded to Carolina for D Wade Brookbank, D Josef Melichar, and a 2009 4th round draft pick.
  • February 18, 2009. Montréal Canadiens' GM Bob Gainey reveals that negotiations with Tampa Bay for a Lecavalier trade were, in fact, going on in January.
  • March 1, 2009. Team begins charging St. Pete Times Forum employees to park, affecting some 500-600 staff.

  • March 4, 2009. D Steve Eminger is traded to Florida for D Noah Welch and a 2009 3rd round draft pick.
  • March 12, 2009. Lightning marketing director Mark Gullett and six other staff are dismissed by OK Hockey.

    March 22, 2009. News surfaces that Angelina Lawton, wife of GM Brian Lawton, has been hired as head of corporate communications. Koules insists that there was no special reason for hiring.

    April 2008. The Tampa Bay Lightning ends the 2008-2009 season 29th overall in the NHL, with a record of 24-40-18.

    April 13, 2009. Marks the beginning of several rounds of layoffs of team and arena employees at all levels of operation, including team mascot Thunderbug.

    April 14, 2009. The Tampa Bay Lightning is awarded the second overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montréal.

    May 11, 2009. Rick Tocchet is officially made the new head coach and is signed to a new contract.

  • May 11, 2009. Team majority owner Oren Koules, at a public forum event, boasts that former GM Jay Feaster never had the nerve or made promises not to trade Vincent Lecavalier. Koules is quickly corrected by those in attendance that Feaster had made the claim several times during his tenure as GM.
  • June 23, 2009. Oren Koules and Len Barrie go into mediation to determine who has control of the team after months of speculation that the two are feuding. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rules that Oren Koules stays in control of the franchise.

    If we've missed anything significant, please feel free to leave it in the comments.