Advertisement
  1. Lightning

Vinik aims to keep Stamkos with Lightning

SAM OWENS   |   Times

Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik, right, waves to the crowd during an interview with NHL’s Lightning play-by-play broadcaster Rick Peckham, left, during the Tampa Bay Lightening Fan Fest, presented by Florida Hospital, in Amalie Arena, Saturday, September 27, 2014. The Lightning’s annual Fan Fest was free and open to the public. Festivities started at 9 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m. with events such as group practices, a new jersey reveal and autograph signings.
SAM OWENS | Times Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik, right, waves to the crowd during an interview with NHL’s Lightning play-by-play broadcaster Rick Peckham, left, during the Tampa Bay Lightening Fan Fest, presented by Florida Hospital, in Amalie Arena, Saturday, September 27, 2014. The Lightning’s annual Fan Fest was free and open to the public. Festivities started at 9 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m. with events such as group practices, a new jersey reveal and autograph signings.
Published Sep. 28, 2014

TAMPA — Lightning owner Jeff Vinik says his goal is to roughly break even while building a team that can compete at the highest level year after year.

And though Vinik said Saturday the organization is still losing "a little bit of money," he plans to continue spending at or near the salary cap, even as the cap likely will significantly increase from this season's $69 million in the next few years due to a new Canadian television deal. "How lucky am I to be an owner of a professional sports team and a professional hockey league team?" Vinik said. "And I want our fans and myself to enjoy giving our best shot to win."

Vinik's willingness to spend could come into play next summer. The team can begin negotiating a contract extension for C Steven Stamkos in July, with the captain two years from free agency and a sizable contract.

Vinik said he would leave it to GM Steve Yzerman to handle the negotiations but made it clear he wants Stamkos, a "superstar hockey player and a superstar person," to be with the Lightning for the long haul. "I'll tell Steven loud and proud, 'I hope you're with us for your whole career and lead us to a lot of Stanley Cups,' " Vinik said.

Vinik was blown away by the "tremendous" attendance at Saturday's Fan Fest at Amalie Arena — 8,830 — saying season-ticket sales have tripled since he bought the team in 2010. Vinik said he wants the Lightning to be the Green Bay Packers of hockey and though it has a little ways to go, "we're getting to that world-class status we want to be at."

Vinik has the same cautious optimism as Yzerman about the Lightning, expected to contend in the Eastern Conference this season. "The press has pretty high expectations for us. We hope we achieve them or surpass them," Vinik said. "But 82 games is a grind, and goal No. 1 is to make the playoffs, and if we can make the playoffs, then who knows what can happen?"

CUTTING DOWN: The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts, getting down to 28 players on its roster as it heads to Estero on Monday for the final week of training camp. The final roster will be 23 for the regular-season opener Oct. 9.

The Lightning reassigned to their junior teams 2014 first-round draft pick D Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia, Ontario league) and F Adam Erne (Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior League), and it released G Peter Mannino from his tryout.

Twenty-five players were reassigned to AHL Syracuse, including six that must clear waivers first: forwards Mike Angelidis, Mike Blunden, Phillipe Paradis and Jerome Samson, and defensemen J.P. Cote and Matt Corrente.

Forwards Vladislav Namestnikov, Jonathan Marchessault and Cedric Paquette are still in camp, as is D Luke Witkowski. Coach Jon Cooper said performance and need led the team to keep more players heading into camp's final week. For the list of players reassigned, go to tampabay.com/blogs/lightning.

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

BACK IN BLACK: Stamkos modeled the new alternate jersey before Saturday's scrimmage, a black sweater with "BOLTS" across the front. It received positive reviews from players. "I love them," Stamkos said. "They're simple but at the same time flashy," C Tyler Johnson said. The jerseys can be ordered at team stores now but are not available until mid November.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Stamkos wasn't scheduled to participate in the scrimmage but played in the second half because he believed he owed it to the fans who showed up. … RW Jonathan Drouin's right thumb fracture was a minor setback and Drouin will be in the lineup when he's ready, Yzerman said.

Around the league

Penguins: Sidney Crosby, expected to play in his first preseason game after missing time with an undisclosed injury, didn't play against the Blue Jackets because of the death of his grandmother. He went home to Nova Scotia but was expected back today.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Joe Smith at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge