TAMPA — Look closely at the 47-foot-tall picture of the city skyline that's on the outside wall of the St. Pete Times Forum at the corner of Morgan Street and Channelside Drive.
No, look really closely. In fact, a pair of celestial binoculars (basically a mini-telescope) would help because buried amid the blue shading and fuzzy white accents are the faint logos of at least the Lightning's Southeast foes.
"I don't know what you're talking about," deadpanned team spokesman Bill Wickett.
Let's start with the story going around before the season that the billboard space was cursed. Nobody was serious, of course, but it was a cute way for the team to explain a run of bad luck with players featured there: goaltender Marc Denis, who was so bad, his contract was bought out; Steven Stamkos, who was shown incorrectly as a left-handed shot; and Dan Boyle, who was traded.
The team mandated no player would again adorn the space and that a design element included in the skyline picture was intended to "reverse the curse."
As it turns out, the Lightning tried to curse its opponents, or at least those from the Southeast; a full accounting of displayed logos could not readily be made.
Considering Tampa Bay is last in the division and fighting to stay out of the league cellar, left wing Ryan Malone said, "Obviously, we've got to put some clovers in there."
Considering Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Capitals, left wing Matt Pettinger said, "They must have not put Washington up there."
Considering no one really believes in curses, it was all in fun.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.