1. Lightning

'Relatively calm' is Jeff Vinik's game persona

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is excited for the NHL playoffs to begin and said he reads at least four hours a day. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published Apr. 12, 2018

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.


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


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) confers with forward Alex Barre-Boulet (60) before a face-off during the first period of the preseason game on Tuesday against Carolina. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Carter Verhaeghe scores twice in an OT loss to the Predators; Tampa Bay also trims its training camp roster by 14.
  2. The Lightning assigned Louis Domingue to the AHL on Saturday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The team has a logjam at goalie and Domingue is the odd man out, even after revitalizing his career.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (79) before an NHL preseason hockey game against the Nashville Predators Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    The 22-year-old forward prospect sends the Lightning to a 3-1 win over the Predators.
  4. Victor Hedman will play in the Lightning's preseason game against Nashville. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and other NHL regulars will play against Nashville
  5. The Lightning put goalie Louis Domingue on waivers Friday. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay plans to send both goalies to the AHL if they clear waivers
  6. Former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi announced his retirement on Friday. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The 35-year-old played 13 seasons total, making the playoffs 12 of those.
  7. Tim Tebow. [Associated Press)] Associated Press
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tom Jones and Rick Stroud debate Tebow, Dickie V, the first-place Bucs and the Rays playoff chase
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) waits his turn during drills on the first day on the ice at the beginning of training camp at the Ice Sports Forum. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay doesn’t have many roster spots available, but the positions within the lineup are still taking shape.
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jimmy Huntington (47) takes a bite out of his stick blade while taking with goaltending coach Frantz Jean on the first day on the ice at the beginning of training camp. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay has had success with undrafted players like Tyler Johnson and Alex Barre-Boulet.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning's Cory Conacher (89) looks to pass the puck with Carolina Hurricanes' Clark Bishop (64) reaching in during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game, in Raleigh, N.C, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. KARL B DEBLAKER  |  AP
    Tampa Bay falls into the same penalty trap as first game: way too many. Preseason isn’t off to an ideal start.