Lightning news and non-news went through a quick spurt the past couple days, and hey, we all need to produce copy in the middle of summer.
Three bygone Bolts, Teddy Purcell, Keith Aulie and Benoit Pouliot, met with the Edmonton media to give their warm hellos before it reaches 100 below freezing by September.
I saw that either a Lightning fan or a blogger (both I suppose as one) tweeted how Purcell didn’t make Lightning look all that good. Well, just like my Edmonton weather hyperbole, it’s a good throwaway one-liner to make, with some truth to it.
Here’s what Purcell had to say about the surprise trade and the fans, as told by the Edmonton Sun:
“This is a little bit different, it’s not like this down in Tampa,” Purcell said of the media coverage. “It’s going to be fun for us to come in and embrace it and come and help these guys as best we can.
“We had dinner (Monday) with the management and the coaches and they said to have fun with it and embrace it. They said how good the fans are, how patient they’ve been and how they’ve been waiting for the team to get back in the playoffs and be successful again. It’s going to be really exciting, it’s going to be a lot of pressure, but as an athlete, you want to embrace that pressure.”
The media coverage? There’s no comparison whether by volume or quality. Tampa is fortunate to still be a two-paper town, which means two beat writers and a sports columnist from each paper pitching in every now and then. TV stops by when they can and even what seems like a crowded press conference in Tampa is small unless the Canadian media decides to rush down and cover Steven Stamkos returning, only to be in town coincidentally for the Martin St. Louis trade.
For the fans, it’s not a fair comparison. Even with all the losing, the Oilers are still a team that lives on its heritage of its five Stanley Cups. Given its run of eight (!!) consecutive years of missing the playoffs and still finding a pretty good crowd in a 40-year-old arena, that’s pretty good. In the Lightning’s brief existence, the longest the franchise went without making the playoffs was for six seasons, from 1996 to 2002.
I’d call that pretty patient. I don’t think Lightning fans should ever be like “Hey, wait until we miss the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons! We’ll sell out every night!” Because even one or two seasons with poor attendance will bring Canadian relocation vultures, just as they’re circling the Florida Panthers.
Pouliot wasn’t quoted about fans, but instead, the expectations of playing in a Canadian city.
“I did play in Montreal for two years. Loved it. Loved the pressure,” he told the Edmonton Journal.
What Lightning fans should care to watch with these Tampa-happy Oilers is if Purcell can finally learn to shoot more, as the Journal also discusses:
Purcell said he get yelled at a lot for not firing the puck more often — he recorded 156 shots in 80 games last season — “but there are lots of guys here who can make plays, so I’ll shoot more.”
For the record, Purcell has taken 776 shots in 400 career NHL games — he’s no Taylor Hall, for example, who has fired 797 in 246 games.
That same article also talks with Aulie, who essentially says he’s happy to be there, which is more than most players let alone playoff hungry fans can say.
LIGHTNING LINKS and BYGONE BOLTS
- New Port Richey will host the World Cup of ball hockey in September. Hey, not everyone can skate. Chris Wilkerson | Tampa Bay Business Journal
- Lightning alum Corey Sarich had to be airlifted during a cycling accident in British Columbia and is in stable condition. Get well soon. NHL
- Prospect Luke Witkowski says he needs to add more skill to his grit as he readies to rejoin the Syracuse Crunch. Dan D’Addona | Holland Sentinel
- Brett Connolly on his make-or-break year: “I’m trying to put myself in good position to be a real contributor this year and I’ll be going at it until I go to training camp. You can’t take anything for granted and that’s why we work so hard in the off-season.” Ted Clarke | Prince George Citizen
- Connolly will have to battle Richard Panik to crack the line-up, but evaluating that now just gets you through the next day. Wait until training camp and pre-season games. John Fontana | Raw Charge
- I know Steve Whyno is better than this. Steven Stamkos not paying attention to that his contract is up in two years because everyone in Toronto is hard for him to become a Maple Leaf. Stupid LeBron. Stephen Whyno | Toronto Star
- Funny comparison, but the NHL takes select quotes from the interview and spins them that Stamkos touts that Tampa can contend for a Stanley Cup. NHL
- But the real news, or at least why Stamkos was even being interviewed, was that he was playing ball hockey to help the Canadian Special Olympics. That was never mentioned in The Star. Tampa Bay Lightning
- You can watch Stamkos in a Lightning sweater five times on national TV this year for the regular season. Tampa Bay Lightning
- While the Lightning Girls are solidifying its lineup, the Panthers are disbanding their ice girls. I think this is for the better. The Panthers girls go beyond being in classy uniforms for a little spirit during the games and pose for very, very revealing photos. Craig Davis | South Florida Sun-Sentinel