The Tampa Bay Lightning, under the leadership of new owner and Governor Jeff Vinik, got up close and personal with its fans on Saturday, hosting a fan appreciation day of sorts at the St. Pete Times Forum. The doors were opened at 10:30am and the event featured an 11:00am “chalk talk” from Lightning broadcasters Rick Peckham and Bobby “the Chief” Taylor and Lightning Stanley Cup winning captain Dave Andreychuk.
The group was joined at 11:30am by the new owner and he expressed graciousness to the fans and the Tampa Bay community for its support in the infancy of his ownership tenure of the franchise. Before taking part in the “chalk talk,” Vinik was joined by Andreychuk at the check-tables, greeting fans, taking pictures and signing a few autographs.
“I have to admit, signing autographs is something new for me, but it’s very flattering that our great fans are appreciative of our short and long-term goals moving forward, Vinik said. “We’re very bullish on the future of the organization and it’s good to know so much of our fanbase is as well.”
In addition to getting to hear from Mr. Vinik, Lightning fans were able to watch the team practice today and have it all broken down by the Chief and Dave Andreychuk as they explained the goals of the coaching staff while players were working on certain skills.
Afterwards, fans were able to get out on the ice themselves to take shots on the nets and also interact with Lightning radio voice Dave Mishkin and Lightning alums Brian Bradley and Chris Dingman in the fanland area; where there were a collection of inflatable games and interactives for the littlest Lightning fans.
The day finished with an hour-long autograph session from the entire team, conducting solely for season ticket holders that had renewed their accounts for the 2010-11 season. One longtime Lightning season ticket holder, Trey Corish from Tampa, expressed thanks to the players and the organization. “It’s good to know the players and the Lightning understand the investment we make as season ticket holders."
Corish then upgraded his season ticket plan from three half-season tickets in section 114 to three full-season tickets in the same area. “The ticket deals the new ownership is presenting are terrific and I like where he (Vinik) intends to take the organization; onward and upward. It’s gonna be fun.”