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New Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik gets show of local support

WASHINGTON — In late 2007, Tom Scarritt and fellow Tampa attorney Steve Burton tried, but failed, to form an investment group to buy the Lightning from Palace Sports & Entertainment.

Though Scarritt said he has concerns about the lack of local ownership after OK Hockey this month sold the team to Boston hedge fund manager Jeff Vinik, he believes the bay area business community is behind Vinik.

"After two years of financial irresponsibility, management dysfunction and poor choices, I believe the business community, as well as the Tampa Bay community in general, are delighted to have Mr. Vinik buy the team," Scarritt wrote in an e-mail. "He has a reputation for being a risk-taker, and he has certainly taken one here. However, he also has a reputation for letting his managers manage and coaches coach, which will be a refreshing and much-needed change."

Scarritt, 53, was the attorney for Doug MacLean and Jeff Sherrin, who in November 2007 sued Oren Koules, their former partner in Absolute Hockey Enterprises, for $50 million after a failed attempt to buy the team. The suit was settled out of court.

Scarritt said he and Burton then were facilitators in an attempt to bring together local businessmen and some out-of-towners to buy the team that eventually went to Koules, Len Barrie and six minor investors.

"There is some concern about the lack of local ownership now," Scarritt wrote. "Local investors with whom we spoke had an interest in participating, which decreases the chances of the team being moved to some other city. Otherwise, I believe the business community embraces Mr. Vinik."

Vinik has said moving the team "isn't on my radar."

Ohlund, Malone out: D Mattias Ohlund and LW Ryan Malone sat out Friday against the Capitals. Ohlund sustained a leg injury Thursday in the third period against the Maple Leafs when he hit the boards with Christian Hanson. Malone played against Toronto after missing one game with what he called a minor upper-body injury. No word on his prognosis. D Matt Smaby, a healthy scratch for three straight games, was in the lineup.

DONE: C Steven Stamkos' team-record 18-game points streak ended as his shot at an empty net slid wide at the final horn. He did not seem to mind, given the win over the Capitals. "It couldn't have ended in a better fashion," he said.

The streak, with 16 goals and 15 assists, was the league's second-longest this season, one behind Anaheim's Corey Perry. His seven-game goal streak is second longest in team history, behind Brian Bradley's eight in November 1992, and the longest in the league this season.

"He's going to be a bona fide superstar that is going to challenge Alex (Ovechkin) for these goals and awards, along with Sidney (Crosby) in the not too distant future," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said."

Odds and ends: The Capitals had not lost in regulation at home since Dec. 28 (14-0-1). … LW Todd Fedoruk's assist was his first point since Oct. 29. … A sale of game-used Lightning equipment is 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum west plaza before the game with the Penguins.

New Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik gets show of local support 03/12/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 13, 2010 12:33am]
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