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Best Of The Web: March 8-15

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning


Who doesn’t love an inspirational story, right?

Well, this one in particular comes right from our own back yard here in Tampa Bay, and involves sensational Lightning rookie Cory Conacher, and an NHL career that perhaps almost wasn’t.

Yep, hard to believe, I know.

But as Sports Talk Florida discovered this past week, it turns out Conacher, perhaps like every young player trying to make it to the big time, hit a lull not too long ago that had his future in doubt.

Paraphrasing from the article, Conacher was a senior at Canisius College outside of Buffalo, New York, but found himself getting benched, something that had not happened since his first year at the school. The idea was to get Conacher to work more on his defense, and play more of a two way game. Still, while it appears now that the lesson was well worth it and certainly paid off, at the time it was more of a blow to the young player’s confidence.

Then things suddenly changed.

It was at a Buffalo Sabres game, a team Conacher frequently watched, when he received a single message from his agent, and one that stuck with him as he has made his way to the NHL.

“He mentioned he could see me out on that ice. He said he could see me scoring goals with the guys that are out there,” Conacher stated in the article, which can be found in its entirety here.

The message served as a wake-up call, and resonated loudly for Conacher, who took the advice in stride and used it to his betterment.

To his credit, it was a turning point, and one both he and Lightning fans are sure glad he made.

And, just for good measure, we’ll throw in a little ditty by one of music’s all-time great frontmen, and a personal favorite of mine, Peter Cetera:


Last week, the Tampa Bay Lightning – you’ve heard of them, right? – released a new television commercial advertising a new ticket package that features OxiClean infomercial pitchman Anthony Sullivan enjoying some ice time with Lightning players Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell.

The deal is called the “Sully Hat Trick Package” which gives fans the option to buy three games and get a fourth game free for as low as $79.

A good deal, yes, but it got even sweeter for the team when just hours after it had been released, it was picked up by the social media hub site Mashable, as well as posted to Twitter, earning retweets from Sullivan himself, members of the local media, and national media member Chris Botta, a former New York Islanders public relations executive who has also authored articles for publications such as the Sports Business Journal and the New York Times.

Keep in mind, this should be somewhat of an easy sell for the Bolts, for if Sullivan was one to convince consumers that it was perfectly safe to stick one’s hand over an open fire with that Hamburger Helper-looking Grill Glove thing, then he should undoubtedly be able to further promote the game of hockey to a fan base that has already sold out every single home game this season.

And yes, if there was ever a homer pick to insert into this segment, this was it.


Anyone familiar with the sport of hockey surely knows of the infraction that is referred to as high-sticking.

Well, in a strange twist, one player at the Junior “A” level, skating for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs based out of British Columbia, has perhaps come up with what should be known as high-kicking.

Inadvertently, of course.

Watch below, as Teal Burns races behind the opponent’s net to reverse the course of a puck, swiveling and throwing it back up the boards. As he turns, however, he’s hit, causing his leg to swing up and, somehow, right out into the area behind the goal.

There was no penalty or anything assessed, although it did cause a 30-minute delay.

I’m sure the rink manager wasn’t too pleased, but Chuck Norris probably at least was.


The Syracuse Crunch sit atop the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference standings with a record of 36-17-3-4, so few would argue that the Lightning’s top minor league affiliate in the AHL isn’t a top talent.

But perhaps nothing adds to the identity of the club quite like a provocative billboard.

And not just any billboard, but specifically, the one seen in this article.

It features Crunch forward Eric Neilson, laying flat as if here planking on top of the goal, with a phone in hand accompanied by a slogan that says “For a good time, call…”

The number listed, of course, isn’t Neilson’s, but rather that of the Crunch ticket office, which came up with the advertisement as a potential way to engage fans.

So, pretty much in summary, the guy can play hockey, and at least some in the Syracuse marketing department also think he’s really, really, ridiculously good looking.

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