Let me begin by thanking you and extending my sincere appreciation for your support during these difficult past few months. Lightning hockey is back at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and your ongoing support is an inspiration to me and our entire organization. Our fans are critical as we continue to build a successful, world class franchise in Tampa Bay.
Pending ratification, the 10-year collective bargaining agreement allows the Lightning to compete with the top teams in the NHL and we will continue to pursue the ultimate goal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Tampa Bay. We start our 20th Anniversary season united with our players in the idea that NHL hockey should be a primary part of this great community for the next 20 years and beyond.
As we prepare for the start of the 2012-13 season, I am very excited about our prospects on the ice. Steve Yzerman and his hockey operations staff worked diligently this off season to add five solid players to the team’s core, including goaltender Anders Lindback and marquee defensemen Matt Carle and Sami Salo. Our American Hockey League affiliate won the Calder Cup Championship in 2012 and it is once again one of the league’s top teams. For the first time in our history, we are confident that future stars of the Lightning team will come from the current core of our minor league players (Syracuse Crunch).
Off the ice, our arena renovation is almost fully complete. Our new scoreboard is the largest of its kind in the world, with an ultra-high definition screen that stretches from blue line to blue line. Fresh artwork, sound enhancements and retail stores are in place and ready for our great fans.
The league has informed us that, pending CBA ratification, training camps should open this weekend and our first game will most likely be on January 19th. The proposed 48-game schedule sets up very well for an exciting sprint to the playoffs, with each game counting more than ever.
We appreciate you for Being our Thunder and as the franchise’s caretaker, you have my pledge that we will continue developing a world class team and fan experience for the next 20 years of Lightning hockey. I look forward to seeing you on Opening Night.
Chairman and Governor