Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

‘Relatively calm’ is Jeff Vinik’s game persona

Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones spoke with Lightning owner Jeff Vinik on the eve of the Lightning’s playoff opener.

How excited are you as the playoffs get under way?

It’s Christmas. It’s the best time of year. There’s nothing like playoff hockey. It’s the best thing. And when our team is a part of it, it’s even better than the best thing.

They say that good organizations start at the top with good ownership. What is your ownership philosophy?

Hire great people. Give them the resources they need to be successful. Let them do their thing without interfering. And hold them accountable at the end of the day.

Is there an owner or ownership group that you model your style after?

I have a lot of respect for all the Boston teams, certainly. And I know the people there better than other areas and how they operate. There are several organizations around the NHL, but my philosophy in the stock market and here is I kind of watch what we’re doing. I don’t pay attention to what others are doing. You try to learn, but you kind of put blinders on and do the best we can.

You have so much going on in the community, can you put a percentage on how much time you spend on hockey and how much you dedicate to everything else you have going on?

I (can) because … I’m always trying to figure out how to be more efficient with my time. So I have done that exercise recently. I would say hockey is no more than 25 percent of my time, excluding watching games. I watch games every night, so that’s a ton of time. I would say 25 percent. That’s meeting with (Lightning president) Steve Griggs and meeting with (general manager) Steve Yzerman, getting involved with some strategic decisions occasionally. But mainly it’s just meeting with people in the community and just building our brand and keeping people informed with what we’re doing.

The Rays are potentially going to build a stadium in Ybor City. What do you think of that?

I’m maintaining my posture for many years on the Rays, and that’s I respect the organization quite a bit. I like (Rays owner) Stu (Sternberg). But I stay out of their business and let them do what they think is best. Whether it’s there or some other location, I sure hope they’re here for a long time.

Can three professional major sports teams work in Tampa Bay?

I think it’s a challenge in 2018, but I think this economy will grow into it. So, yes.

Back to the playoffs. How do you watch the games? Tell us about your process. Are you a nervous watcher? Are you a screamer?

(Laughs) No, I’m not a screamer. I’m relatively calm. The last time in the playoffs, it gets to Game 6 and that’s when you start getting a little nervous. Like, really intense situations, Game 6, going into overtime or something like that, it can become uncomfortably nervous. But I love every minute of it.

Do you watch with other people?

Just family.

Do you talk during the game?

No. When the puck is in play, we do not talk. My favorite part of the job is going to games. I don’t entertain during games. I don’t socialize during games. I’ll do it before. I’ll do it between periods. But I’m the owner. I can actually watch the games.

Didn’t you watch a playoff game from the stands a few years ago in Detroit?

I do it a lot. The seats are better if you sit in the stands. Nobody knows who I am. So I probably do it a half-dozen times a year on the road.

Who is the best fan in your family besides you?

Let’s put it this way: Jared, my second-oldest son (who is 25), almost got into a fight with an Islanders fan two years ago. Put it that way.

Really?

That made it into the locker room. (Lightning coach Jon Cooper) used that in the locker room with the players!

Comments
Lightning’s owes its penalty-kill success to the art of blocking shots

Lightning’s owes its penalty-kill success to the art of blocking shots

BRANDON — Defenseman Anton Stralman single-handedly preserved the tie when he stepped in front of the shot.Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had stopped the previous handful of pucks that Columbus fired at him during its first power play, but he wa...
Published: 10/15/18
‘Pucks had eyes’ for Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

‘Pucks had eyes’ for Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

TAMPA – Saturday, the Lightning made it look as if its first two games of the season never happened.Remember that  team that couldn't score more than one goal a game? It seemed all but a distant memory.The team that scored the most goals o...
Published: 10/14/18
Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Blue Jackets game

Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Blue Jackets game

So much for those issues on the power play. The Lightning spent about half of practice Friday working on its power play after failing to score on eight opportunities in its first two games of the season. The work paid off with four power-play goals a...
Published: 10/13/18
Updated: 10/14/18
Lightning gets scoring message, tops Blue Jackets 8-2

Lightning gets scoring message, tops Blue Jackets 8-2

TAMPA — In its first two games, the Lightning trying to score pretty goals produced only ugly results.It mustered two total goals through two games with that approach. So coach Jon Cooper made it clear after Thursday's loss to the Canucks: Go i...
Published: 10/13/18
Lightning journal: Rookie Mathieu Joseph has no fear

Lightning journal: Rookie Mathieu Joseph has no fear

TAMPA — Though Lightning F Mathieu Joseph shined in training camp and made the opening-day roster, his spot was not cemented in the lineup.But if he keeps playing how he has played early, he won't be going anywhere soon."The way he is playing t...
Published: 10/13/18
Lightning journal: Working on the power play

Lightning journal: Working on the power play

BRANDON — The Lightning wasted little time waiting to work on its power play once players stepped on the ice for practice Friday.The first drill: Working on the power play in separate groups on each rink at the Ice Sports Forum.The second drill...
Published: 10/12/18
What to do with those Lightning panic buttons

What to do with those Lightning panic buttons

TAMPA —Don't you have to have won the Stanley Cup to have a Stanley Cup hangover?The Lightning are 1-1. Given expectations, you'd think the sky was falling.Come with me if you want to live!Such is life after Tampa Bay's uninspired start. An und...
Published: 10/12/18
It starts with a bang and ends with a whimper

It starts with a bang and ends with a whimper

TAMPA — After Lightning coach Jon Cooper watched Brock Boeser at the All-Star Game in Tampa last season, he knew he would have his hands full when the Canucks came to town."What a talent he is," Cooper said.The right wing proved Cooper right wh...
Published: 10/11/18
Tom Jones: Late Lightning meltdown raises concerns

Tom Jones: Late Lightning meltdown raises concerns

TAMPAWell, this Lightning season sure isn't off to the start everyone expected.This is supposed to be the fun stuff — kicking ice and taking names. Running teams out of the building and scoring goals by the bushel. And wins. Lots and lots of ea...
Published: 10/11/18
Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Canucks game

Nick Kelly’s takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Canucks game

That's how you want to start. After the Lightning had a lackluster first period Saturday vs. Florida, it all but dominated the first against Vancouver, outshooting the Canucks 17-5. Yes, the same Lightning team that did not register five shots in the...
Published: 10/11/18