Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning uses Web site to hype top pick Stamkos

Highlights and stats of future Lightning player Steven Stamkos are at, which is run by the Lightning.

Getty Images

Highlights and stats of future Lightning player Steven Stamkos are at, which is run by the Lightning.

A mundane lunch somewhere in South Tampa. … Panini, caramelized onions. Beef and barley soup, low fat. Somewhere over a second refill of chilled green tea, you notice the entire cafe has filled with otherwise normal-looking lunchgoers wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan ""

They all seem to be jabbering about this Steven Stamkos.

Is he a new reality show star? A comedian playing in town? Is he running for city council? And why do these people like him so much?

In an era when "viral" homemade videos on YouTube and guerilla marketing campaigns take products to the people, the Lightning has taken a clever approach to generating excitement for its 2008-09 season and the player it will select with the first overall pick in the June 20 draft: Steven Stamkos.

Average Tampa Bay residents don't know the 6-foot-1, 180-pound center scored 58 goals and had 47 assists in 61 games for Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League this season, is ranked as the top prospect by Central Scouting and is the most heralded prospect since Sidney Crosby in 2005.

But they might find a business card with "" tucked under their wiper blade, see a billboard, a sidewalk graphic or bumper sticker. They might have their lunch blitzed by a "flash mob" of Lightning marketing staffers, and just maybe they'll click over to the Web site dedicated to its next star.

"We're just trying to have a little fun in the offseason," said Mark Gullett, Lightning director of marketing and promotions. "This is not necessarily a new approach for us because we've done some stuff like this before. So we're just trying to be aggressive and take advantage of some opportunities out there.''

Decidedly unglossy and low-budget (it could very well have been built by a fan), the site uses testimonials but mostly viral video to let Stamkos sell himself. The only giveaway the site, which the team says is getting visits from 5,000 unique users per day, is Lightning-backed is the use of its "Hockey Bay USA" logos.

"It's really hard to get professional video of him at this point,'' Gullett said. "We just took advantage of things anyone can find on YouTube. If someone clicks on that little 48-second (video of a breakaway goal) at the top, I think we've got them."

Sale progresses

The NHL has started its due diligence into the proposed sale of the Lightning to Oren Koules' OK Hockey, league spokesman Frank Brown said Thursday.

That is a crucial step in a process that got a big boost last month when owner Palace Sports & Entertainment and Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York sports investment bank, announced they would provide about half of the financing for the $200-million deal.

Koules hopes the league approves the transfer of ownership before the draft.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

Lightning uses Web site to hype top pick Stamkos 05/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 1:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College basketball scandal dips into Tampa Bay


    Secret recordings. Undercover agents. Bribes. Federal indictments. College basketball's latest national scandal into the unsavory methods that coaches, agents and shoe company representatives use to make inroads with elite high school prospects has it all — including connections to Tampa Bay.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  2. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    UPDATE, 5:59 p.m.: The Rays are officially eliminated from the playoff race with their next loss or the Twins next win. ... Both LHP Xavier Cedeno and 3B coach Charlie Montoyo got word that their familes in Puerto Rico were safe and their homes withstood the hurricane. ... Ramos said he wasn't focused on the …

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Alex Volkov with a top-six showcase for Lightning


    Alex Volkov entered Lightning camp a bit of an unknown, the second-round pick from Russia in his first NHL camp.

    Alex Volkov (79) works to stop Florida Panthers center Denis Malgin (62) during the second period of Sunday's game in Tampa.