Friday, August 31, 2007

New "Jumbi" Coming to the Forum

Say goodbye to the old Jumbo-Tron at the Forum. The Bolts are getting a new state-of-the art system installed as we speak.


“We are pleased to introduce HiTech as our partner in the design and development of the new video board system for the St. Pete Times Forum”, said Campbell in making the announcement. “We were impressed by HiTech’s focus on innovation, technology and its cutting edge approach. This has been an exciting project, joining forces with another Tampa Bay company to deliver a unique video board that will set us apart from all others in professional sports.”

The new LED (light emitting diode) video board system will include a fully digital, full-color main board hanging over center ice and a 360 degree full-color ribbon board circling the fascia of the arena’s lower level. Additionally, amber scoreboards will be installed on the upper level fascia behind each goal. More detail on the new system will be available next week along with full-color static and video renderings of the main video board.

This should mean the end of blurry, hard to see video in the arena! The new system should be on-line by the home opener on October 4th.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

It Could be Worse

For those of you who aren't fans of the Bolts new Uni's, be thankful they didn't go as astray as Vancouver. OMG those are awful.

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PSE Still in Control...for Now & Rumours

The Times had a nice write up regarding the current situation surrounding the sale of the Lightning with regard to current control of the franchise. In a nut shell, until the sale is final, which realistically could take until the end of the calendar year, Palace Sports and Entertainment will continue to run the organization the way they always have. The only stipulation that brings the Absolute Hockey group in, is that they must be consulted before any major moves are made. So if anyone was wondering whether or not the self-imposed $44 mil cap was going up, there is your answer.

So this should put to rest the rumours of Kubina and his $5 mil salary coming back to Tampa. Bryzgalov rumours are still out there, possibly a deal involving Prospal. That looks like it is hinging on Selanne returning for another season in Anaheim. I know Prospal is penciled in as a center and Selanne a winger, but both are forwards, and Anaheim will need to replace Selanne and his 94 points with somebody should he leave. Looking at the Bolts roster, Prospal makes sense. Prospal makes roughly the same as Bryzgalov, so cap issues don't exist. Plus Prospal played out there during the Bolts '04 cup run. With the Ducks being up against the cap (currently at $49 mil) Selanne's return and this deal may ultimately be hinging on Niedermayer's decision on retirement, and the $6 mil in cap space that would create. Sooo, keep an eye on the Niedermayer/Selanne situation out on the left coast as it could signal the future of Tampa's goaltending.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ice Fest & Misc. News and Notes

I was just browsing the local writers and came across some interesting stuff on Erik Erlendsson's blog. Normally I would have been at the Q & A session, but I was out of town working. Thankfully he was able to grab a few quotes from Feaster regarding the goaltending situation:

The first question was how the team’s goaltender issues were going to be solved by bringing back the goaltender who sat in the press box for the playoff series. Feaster’s initial response - I tried this summer to get Ken Dryden out of retirement but it didn’t work.
Feaster also went on to say that Marc Denis will do one of three things, play his way back to a spot, play his way to the minor leagues or play his way into a trade. He mentioned that Denis, Johan Holmqvist and Karri Ramo will be competing for two spots and that while the issues are not necessarily solved or fixed at this point, Denis and Holmqvist were good enough to win 44 games last year and gave them a chance to win.

Then Tort's as usual had Feaster's back:

Tortorella stuck up for Feaster at one point when a question was asked about Tampa Bay not signing big-name free agents stating that “How many big names do you need to bring in under salary cap.’’ considering Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, St. Louis and Dan Boyle are already on the roster.

I guess Dryden wouldn't budge, so it looks like, unfortunately, what I was saying a while back. The Bolts are going to get Denis some playing time to hopefully raise his stock. That is if he makes the big team. I don't see that not happening since he is not on a 2-way deal and it is very hard to imagine a $2.8 mil goalie playing in Norfolk. Who knows, he could surprise us all and actually play well and earn the #1 spot. I feel much better with Holmer in net, but maybe that's just me. If this plays out like last season, the new ownership will definately be putting the heat on Feaster.

Some dates to keep in mind:

September 13th - Opening of Training Camp
September 19th - Preseason Home Opener vs. Dallas
October 4th - Regular Season Home Opener vs. New Jersey

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Logo and Jersey "Officially" Unveiled

The Bolts unveiled their new Reebok Edge jersey along with the teams new logo today at Ice Fest. Although the team had tried to play off the leaked logo design as incorrect, it turned out to be the final version after all.

“We have taken the opportunity that comes with the Reebok uniform redesign to modernize the crest on our sweaters,” said Ron Campbell, President of the Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum. “We don’t consider this to be an extreme makeover of any kind, but we think the people at Reebok did a great job at giving the Lightning a crisp new look, while maintaining the essence of the logo we wore while winning the Stanley Cup Championship and the spirit of the original design implemented by Founder Phil Esposito 15 years ago.”

Now everyone run out and get your new gear!

Pics from Ice Fest courtesy of

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ice Fest Saturday the 25th

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

NBC the Nobody Cares Network

If you were hoping to catch the Bolts on NBC this upcoming season, don't hold your breath. Apparently there are only 3 teams in the league; the Rangers, Penguins and Red Wings. They make up the bulk of NBC NHL schedule for the upcoming season. Even Anaheim got no respect, the defending Cup Champs only have two possible showings on NBC's "flex" schedule. I understand that ratings for the NHL sucked, but come on. You wanna grow the game Bettman? Get it off Versus/NBC. The sooner ESPN/ABC takes over the better. This may just happen. Here's an article outlining the negotiations between the NHL/Versus/ESPN , as well as info on the NHL Network in the US. God I miss NHL 2Night.

2008 NHL on NBC regular season flexible schedule (All games announced 13 days prior):

Sunday, Jan. 20, 1:30 p.m. ET
Boston @ New York Rangers or
Anaheim @ Dallas

Sunday, Feb. 3, 2 p.m. ET
New York Rangers @ Montreal

Sunday, Feb. 10, 3:30 p.m. ET
Anaheim @ Detroit or
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh or
New York Rangers @ Washington

Sunday, Feb. 17, 3:30 p.m. ET
Detroit @ Dallas or
Pittsburgh @ Buffalo or
San Jose @ New York Rangers or
Colorado @ Chicago

Sunday, March 2, 12:30 p.m. ET
Detroit @ Buffalo or
Philadelphia @ New York Rangers or
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh

Sunday, March 9, 12:30 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh @ Washington or
Boston @ New York Rangers or
Nashville @ Detroit

Sunday, March 16, Noon ET
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh or
Detroit @ Columbus or
Boston @ Washington

Sunday, March 30, 12:30 p.m. ET
New York Rangers @ Pittsburgh or
Nashville @ Detroit or
Boston @ Buffalo

Sunday, April 6, 12:30 p.m. ET
Chicago @ Detroit or
New York Rangers @ New Jersey or
Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Things Are Too Quiet

Since announcement of the sale of the the team, things have been very quiet. Is this the CALM BEFORE THE STORM? Sorry I had to do it. A few rumblings of a big 3 trade that are very un-credible have got me thinking and analyzing. All summer, the one guy out of the 3 that has had the most rumours surrounding him has been Marty. Problem is, he has a no trade, and as of right now, hasn't been asked to wave it. But putting that aside, he would be the most logical guy to move, due to age, length of contract, and the fact that Richards makes too much and Vinny is NOT going anywhere.

So where could Marty fit that would get us what we need, a #1 goalie? Well look no further that Anaheim. I know I have been begging for Bryzgalov, but this makes sense on a couple of fronts. First, Bryzgalov is only set to make about a $1.2 cap hit this season and Burke is looking to deal him, "I don't intend to carry a backup goaltender making what he makes ($1.3625 million) now that our starter makes what he makes," GM Brian Burke said. "If the right deal comes along, I'm going to do it, but what I consider to be the right deal - the bar might be a little bit higher."

If there were a "player for player" swap, the cap space that is saved by moving Marty's $5 mil hit could be used to sign Bryz long term. Second, it looks like Selane will not return to Anaheim, he'll either move on (rumours have Philly as the leader) or retire. Marty would fit right in to his role in Anaheim. So on the surface it makes sense. Whether or not Marty would wave his no trade to facilitate that deal, I don't know. Plus it brings into question what the team does with Denis. A third team may have to get involved such as an LA or Phoenix to move him. But that would be a tough job based on his performance last year. Don't overlook, however, all the talk from Feaster and MacLean about how surprised they were at Denis season, and how they expect him to bounce back strong. Perhaps they are talking him up a bit to cast out some of the doubt about the guy. We'll see in the next few weeks just where the team goes.

Also, look for the new uni's to be unveiled on the 25th at Ice Fest.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Some Funny Stuff

I know everyone who reads this Blog also heads over to Southeast Shootout to get their divisional news fix...RIGHT! So a couple of days ago we were waxing poetically over there on the ineptitude of one Eklund of Here's a link to the post: Breaking Down Eklund.

So all throughout the summer, as good ole Ek has thrown crappy rumour after crappy rumour out there regarding the Bolts and their goaltending (Esche, Burke, Cujo, Hasek...). I have continued to say that it would make sense for the Bolts to shoot for Bryzgalov in Anaheim. His cap number makes sense, we have guys that could fill a need they may have, Feaster and Burke have dealt in the past. So low and behold, guess who thinks Bryzgalov might end up in Tampa...yeah good ole Eklund. Check out his post here

The funny thing is, the Lightning is notorious for keeping a lid on player interest and personnel moves. Heck, no one inside the upper management knew about the sale of the team until yesterday morning. So who is his source? As pointed out in the article on Eklund, he tends to get his rumours from places like message board posts and blogs. Really credible guy. Hmmm has Ek been reading this blog? Looks like it. So Bolts Blog gets credit as an E3 source from EK! Thanks big guy! Just think you guys get all this great "inside info" for free right here, while his readers get to pay for it. You guys are so lucky!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lightning to be Sold

Holy blind side batman!!! Didn't see this one coming.

From AP:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A group led by former Florida Panthers coach Doug MacLean has agreed to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The NHL team says a group called Absolute Hockey Enterprises has signed a purchase agreement with current owner Palace Sports and Entertainment.

The deal includes the leasing rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and adjacent properties.

The sale is subject to approval by the NHL's board of governors.

Sources tell TSN MacLean will be the Chairman and CEO of the Lightning while Jay Feaster will stay on as GM and John Tortorella will remain as head coach.

Absolute Hockey also includes Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules. Team spokesman Jay Preble said Sherrin is a Coral Springs real estate developer and Koules a TV and movie producer.

MacLean coached Florida to the Stanley Cup final in 1996. He was fired in April as the Columbus Blue Jackets president and GM.

The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

From the Lightning:

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning will host a press conference today at 11:00 a.m. in the XO VIP Club on the arena level of the St. Pete Times Forum to announce the sale of the team, the leasehold rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and adjacent properties. Thomas S. Wilson, Chairman and Governor of the Lightning, will introduce a new ownership group, Absolute Hockey Enterprises, which includes Doug MacLean, Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules. A purchase agreement has been signed by Absolute Hockey, but the ownership transfer is subject to approval by the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors.

WHO: Tom Wilson, Palace Sports & Entertainment
Doug MacLean, Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules, Absolute Hockey Enterprises

WHAT: Press Conference Announcing Ownership Transfer

WHERE: XO VIP Club, St. Pete Times Forum

WHEN: 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Media members should park in the VIP West lot at the St. Pete Times Forum, adjacent to the Chrysler-Jeep Plaza, and proceed across the plaza into the XO VIP Club entrance. Doors will open at 10 a.m.

Koules is a TV and Film producer with credits such as the Saw movies and the TV series Two and a Half Men. Sherrin's development company Venture Outlet Centers, specializes in the building of outlet malls.

So now the speculation. Is the team going to be moved? Will they be given a chance to spend more? From the looks of things on the surface, it appears the team will stay in Tampa. The group included a Coral Springs developer, so having a local guy as owner may elude to this. Keep in mind however, that Kansas City and Houston are looking to get a team. Whether or not Feaster will be given any more money to spend, the Bolts are currently $6 mil under the NHL cap, is yet to be seen. It would be nice to see the new group free up some money so that Feaster can address the goaltending issues.

Formal announcement to be made at 11am press conference. Stay tuned Bolts fans...

Listen live at 11:00 on 620 WDAE

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Craig Gets $850,00

From the Times:

Ryan Craig was awarded a one-year contract for $850,000 by arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier. The right wing had asked for $1.2-million. The Lightning, which has slotted Craig as a fourth-line player with special teams duties, asked $650,000. Craig had 14 goals, 27 points in 72 games last season and made $495,000.

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Straight from the GM's Mouth...

Like we all have been saying, the Vinny to Montreal rumours are a bunch of garbage. So to further debunk this nonsense, here is a quote directly from Feaster:

"Jay Feaster: When I took over as GM of the Lightning I told pretty much everyone who would listen, from Mr. Davidson, our owner, to Ron Campbell, our team President, to Vinny to John Tortorella to our fans and media that my legacy was NOT going to be that I would forever be known as the GM who traded Vincent Lecavalier. I would like to think that my position at the time was nicely rewarded when Vinny helped lead us to the Stanley Cup in 2004. As you may know, Vinny is under contract through the 2008-09 season, and it will certainly be our intent to do everything possible to re-sign him and keep him in Tampa. When I became GM of the Lightning one of my personal goals was to be able to what I could to see to it that Vinny would wear a Lightning sweater for his entire career, and my thinking in that regard has not changed."

There you have it Eklund, Garroich, and all of Canada.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Craig Likely Headding to Arbitration

The Times had a good write up on the Ryan Craig situation. Looks like the sides are about $250K apart and will indeed end up in an arbitration hearing on Friday.

From the Times:

If the Lightning and forward Ryan Craig are going to avoid Friday's scheduled arbitration hearing in Toronto, they have some work to do.

While Craig said the sides are "communicating and talking," general manager Jay Feaster said, "I'm not overly optimistic right now," and added that a too-high arbitration award could prompt the team to try to trade the player.

"We've been pretty honest with his agent in terms of where it has to fit for us," Feaster said Wednesday.

Feaster declined to give specifics but it is believed Tampa Bay offered three years at $750,000 each, which would buy out one year of unrestricted free agency, while Craig proposed two years at about $1-million each.

The gap likely will widen in arbitration with Craig expected to ask for one year at about $1.2-million. The Lightning could counter at around $650,000.

A $1.2-million request would be strategic. It is the same amount Bruins forward Chuck Kobasew will make after getting five goals and 19 points in 50 games last season. Craig had 14 goals, 27 points in 72 games.

The collective bargaining agreement also says teams this season can walk away only from awards in excess of $1.221-million. And while arbitrators can award any amount they deem appropriate, an award for more than a player requests is highly unlikely.

Even if Craig, 25, slotted on the fourth line and the power play, gets all he wants, Feaster said there are no guarantees he will be with the Lightning.

The team has committed $42.816-million of the $44-million it has said is available for salaries.

"So we're going to wait until the arbitration decision comes in and if it's a number that doesn't work for us in our budget, then we'll have to look at other options, including moving the player," Feaster said.

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