So, as we read in today's paper, there is a group of Tampa Bay area businesspeople who want to try to mount a bid for the Lightning. Included in the group are Tampa attorneys Steve Burton and Tom Scarritt and Coral Springs real estate developer Jeff Sherrin, who was part of the failed attempt by Absolute Hockey Enterprises to buy the team. Former Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean, also part of Absolute Hockey, said he will meet with the fledgling group this week to see if he is interested in joining.
For the group, the main focus seems to be local ownership and keeping the team in town. And I could have been clearer on that point in today's story, as I believe those in the group were speaking generally about keeping the team at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Oren Koules, the Hollywood producer who also was part of Absolute Hockey and who is now trying to buy the team, has never said he wants to move it. In fact, when Koules, Sherrin and MacLean, announced Absolute Hockey's purchase of the team on Aug. 7, they were adamant they wanted to keep the team in Tampa.
I am curious, though, in this era of telecommuting and instant communications, if having a local owner still matters. Koules and his OK Hockey partners (business partner Mark Berg, and, it is believed, California banker Russell Belinsky), live in Southern Californa. But Koules has said he wants to buy a place on Harbour Island and walk across the bridge to the arena with the fans. The people in Montreal were nuts when George Gillett, an American, bought the Canadiens, but have since come to terms with it. Bill Davidson lives in Michigan, and his business operates there, but the Lightning won a Stanley Cup under his ownership.
I'm not advocating one way or another. To me, though, it is the commitment to the team and winning that counts most. Perhaps I'm wrong but that doesn't seem to be something that necessarily comes from geography.