Monday, March 27, 2017

Dreams That Won't Die

Those pesky Tampa Bay Lightning.  Season started off with very high (think Lord Stanley sitting in FL getting a nice tan) expectations.  Even with Ryan Callahan expected out until Nov, the team was expecting to compete at the end for the cup.

That shiny silver thing... brought out for Marty St. Louis' number retirement back in January.

Then, however, Stammer got hurt.  Eventually, nine of the team were called up from the AHL and the joke became, we were not the Tampa Bay Lightning but the Tampa Bay LightCuse (Syracuse is the AHL team for Tampa).  Erne, Peca, Vermin, Witkowski, Dotchin... the list of AHL'ers playing with the Bolt was lengthy.

As was the losing streak.

Cally came back before he was healed from labrum surgery to try and help.

Boyle.  Ah yes, #11... stepped up... did everything expected... asked of... then... was traded.

After almost two months of being asked if I was going to renew for next year, the team leadership held a town hall.  Season ticket members not having renewed, and apparently fairly vocal about concerns, were asked to attend.

I was one of them.  I'd been vocal before Boyle was traded about my concerns with him being an unrestricted free agent and what the team was going to to do with him.  I felt, still do, that Boyle needs to retire a Bolt.

While much was said and most of it things I won't repeat here, I will say there is a reason the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Jeff Vinik himself, are lauded as the #1 team and person in the sports industry.

Bar none.  We were treated to inside information (as much as could be discussed without signed NDA's in place), we were treated like we mattered.

Questions were asked and answered... even a 9 year old girl's question regarding the trade of Bishop (whom everyone expected last summer).

It was something I've never seen another organization do.  CARE about the people who pay for the seats... who pay, stay, and cheer for a team (I'm often hoarse!).

What made the night even better was this:

Chicago's fans are known for being vocal, voracious, if not arrogant in their expectations of beating other teams.

But those pesky Bolts' players had other ideas.

Teams expect to beat us, to knock us out of the playoffs despite still missing our top two players, having traded our number one goalie, and the fan favorite Boyle...

Teams and their fans expect us to fold.

But this team... they have a dream.

A dream to prove the naysayers wrong.

They are still the Bolts... and I'm lucky enough, for another 5 home games, to be their Thunder.

BTW - Chicago 4, Bolts 5 in overtime!

Dreams don't have to die even when faced with seemingly unsurmountable odds.

I can relate to that feeling.

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