1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning makes appearances throughout the area with strikes of kindness

Lightning players, coaches, alumni and staff “striking” 40 Tampa Bay sites with giveaways and charitable contributions.
Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn works the Dunkin drive through on Kennedy Boulevard as part of the Lightning Strikes of Kindness promotion on Tuesday in Tampa. The NHL gave the Lightning $100,000 for winning the Presidents Trophy. The Lightning are giving that and much more away in a day-long multi-site giveaway involving players, coaches and executives. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn works the Dunkin drive through on Kennedy Boulevard as part of the Lightning Strikes of Kindness promotion on Tuesday in Tampa. The NHL gave the Lightning $100,000 for winning the Presidents Trophy. The Lightning are giving that and much more away in a day-long multi-site giveaway involving players, coaches and executives. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Sep. 10
Updated Sep. 13

TAMPA — A Dunkin’ run isn’t a standard part of Melissa Wiebeck’s morning but she made an exception on Tuesday.

She and her 3-year-old Alexander popped into Dunkin’ to grab him a donut and to meet a couple of Lightning players.

Ryan McDonagh and Braydon Coburn worked the Dunkin’ counter and drive through for an hour Tuesday morning, spending $750 to cover customers’ orders. That was just one of the appearances the Lightning made as part of their “Strikes of Kindness Day.”

The team (players, coaches, staff, alumni, broadcasters and executives) made 40 stops around the area, going as far as Orlando. They volunteered, interacted with fans, and made donations.

SPORTS DAY TAMPA PODCAST: Is Bruce Arians making a valid point, an excuse or both?

All told, the team gave away $100,000 in charitable donations and also bought more than $2,000 worth of food for fans to deliver to teachers and first responders around the area. That doesn’t account for swag bags and ticket giveaways.

The NHL gave the Lightning $100,000 as winners of the Presidents’ Trophy (given to the best regular-season team). Jeff Vinik, who is part a group of local investors who in 2017 loaned $12 million to the Times Publishing Co., didn’t know the Trophy came with money. When they found out, he and CEO Steve Griggs decided to share it with the community.

“It’s just a big part of our DNA to get our employees out there in the field, engage and work with some of these organizations,” Vinik said, during an appearance at Feeding Tampa Bay. “So immediately, we knew we wanted to make this an important day.”

They could have just written a check, but the Lightning wanted to do more. They added volunteer work, fan giveaways and player appearances for random strikes of kindness.

One Dunkin’ customer was right on message. McDonagh pointed out that on Dunkin’ customer’s shirt was right on message. “A little kindness can change everything,” read 17-month-old Riley Small’s pink tee.

Small’s dad Lance works nearby Dunkin’ and he wasn’t expecting to find Lightning players when he dropped in for his coffee. Nor was Jon Fiddelke when he pulled up to the drive through with his Lightning-branded credit card in hand.

MORE SPORTS: High school football player who died wanted to be part of Middleton’s legacy

“Aw man, look,” he called to his 3-year-old twins Olivia and Jacob, upon seeing McDonagh in the window. He repeated how great this was and rolled down the back window for his twins to wave to McDonagh. When asked, though, Olivia said her favorite players are Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

Milan Kratz, another 3-year-old, shyly took her bag of munchkins from Coburn, but reached up to shake his hand when her father Tim prodded.

The Strikes of Kindness initiative involved the entire organization. All of the Lightning’s players and coaches made appearances. Alumni like Mathieu Garon, Dave Andreychuk, Adam Hall, Ruslan Fedotenko made stops. Griggs and Phil Esposito visited the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater with customized jerseys. Broadcasters Rick Peckham, Paul Kennedy and Greg Linelli were in on the effort.

The team spread the $100,000 between Goodwill, Feeding Tampa Bay, Humane Society, Metropolitan Ministries, Southeastern Guide Dogs and Junior Achievement – Finance Park. They also had about 100 staff members volunteering at those sites.

The Lightning made stops at Dunkin’, Chick-Fil-A and Tropical Smoothie to treat fans. They brought breakfast to first responders and 100 smoothies to teachers at Rampello Elementary School in Tampa.

Victor Hedman and Jon Cooper delivered swag bags to patients at Tampa General Hospital. Tyler Johnson and Mathieu Joseph did the same at MacDill Air Force Base.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) on the ice before a face off during the final minutes against the Minnesota Wild during third period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Tampa. The Lightning lost with a final score of 5-4.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Last year’s Hart Trophy winner missed a game earlier this season with a lower-body injury
  2. Lightning coach Jon Cooper, left, said Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in goal for the Lightning Saturday night against Washington at Amalie Arena. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Braydon Coburn returned to the ice, but there’s no update on Tyler Johnson
  3. Twenty years after making his debut as an NHL coach with the Lightning, Steve Ludzik is in dire need of a liver transplant. After a Facebook post by his wife MaryAnn earlier this week, a flood of potential donors have come forward. A handful have been identified as possible matches, but more are still being sought. Call (416) 340-5400 for more information. [Times files]
    Once diagnosed with Parkinson’s during his brief tenure as Lightning coach from 1999-01, Steve Ludzik is now in the fight of his life.
  4. Andrei Vasilevskiy was back to his usual acrobatic maneuvers while stopping 27 of 29 shots Thursday night, including this second period save on Boston Bruins center Joakim Nordstrom (20) with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) helping. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    John Romano | Tampa Bay’s early-season struggles were matched by the goaltender, whose numbers were not as dominant as last season. In recent games, that seems to have changed.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) beats Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period of the game on Thursday, December 12, 2019, between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The captain has a four-game goal streak and is one of the league’s hottest players this month.
  6. Bruins play-by-play broadcaster shared some thoughts during Thursday's game against the Lightning. [DIANA NEARHOS  |  TIMES]
    Three questions with Jack Edwards, the Boston Bruins’ legendary play-by-play broadcaster.
  7. The Lightning took on the Bruins at home on Thursday.
  8. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Bring a new, unwrapped toy to either (or both!) of the next two games
  9. Boston's David Pastrnak, left, and Washington's Alex Ovechkin were the NHL's top two goal-scorers through Tuesday's games. Both are coming to Tampa this week to face the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
    The Lightning face the NHL’s top two teams Thursday and Saturday
  10. The Lightning's Anthony Cirelli (71) and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy, right, watch the puck as the Panthers' Noel Acciari (55) defends during the second period on Tuesday in Sunrise. [LUIS M. ALVAREZ  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay doesn’t make costly mistakes and pays attention to details on defense, just like the team has been talking about.