TAMPA — Jeff Vinik said he has no immediate plans to ask Hillsborough County to reimburse him, not even in part, for the $40 million renovation to the St. Pete Times Forum he is financing.
"Not on my horizon," the Lightning owner said Monday. "What matters now is that we did what's right for the community and what's right for the building."
Fans got their first full-scale look at the cleaned-up Times Forum that has, among other things, new seats, fresh paint, a gut-shaking organ and not-yet-operational Tesla coils that are supposed to shoot 20 feet of lightning to celebrate goals.
Vinik said the renovation has "blown away my expectations."
"I'd say the feel, the culture," he said of what he's most proud of in the building. "This building now has a soul. I think this is a very special place, and I'm proud we were able to achieve this."
Still, Vinik is putting his money into a county-owned building.
"This building has great bones," said Vinik, who owns the lease to operate the 15-year-old Times Forum. "But it needed money put into it, and it needed to have a soul and it needed to be such that everybody who is in this place knew it was in Tampa Bay, so putting money into the facility is the right thing to do and right for the community and for all our constituencies."
CAPACITY: Losing two 300-level sections for a party space and organ and eight suites to create sight lines from the lower concourse into the arena bowl dropped the Times Forum capacity to 19,204 from 19,758.
IN TOUCH: The message wasn't just for Vinny Lecavalier, but as captain he must carry it to the team. So, in a five-minute talk during the morning skate, coach Guy Boucher told Lecavalier he must play with more urgency.
"He's the captain," Boucher said. "He's a big part of this. Guys are going to follow him."
"Now it goes from me to doing it," Lecavalier said. "The most important thing is not to say it in the dressing room; it's about doing it. People will follow that.
"We need to sustain pressure and get them tired in their zone," added Lecavalier, whose goal Monday cut Tampa Bay's deficit to 4-3 with 3:39 left in the second period. "It doesn't mean we just stay in the corner and battle. We have to bring it to the net."
RETURNING: RW Teddy Purcell and LW Ryan Shannon were back in the lineup after being scratched Saturday at Florida.
Boucher gave Shannon a bit of a pass, saying the free agent signee is struggling to grasp Tampa Bay's system. As for Purcell, who had three shots and scored against the Panthers, Boucher said, "I need his battle level where it's supposed to be."
Asked about the message from the coaching staff, Purcell said, "There wasn't any message. I wasn't playing, so I knew myself what was going on. I don't need to be babied and held. I knew what I did wrong and what I needed to do better."
ODDS AND ENDS: The game was the 100th between the clubs. The Lightning is 35-45-10 with 10 ties. … RW Steve Downie received a 10-minute misconduct in the first period for diving during Tomas Fleischmann's hooking call, Boucher said. … Forwards Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt and D Bruno Gervais were scratched.