The Tampa Bay Lightning had their fans with them in Toronto for their exhibition game against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Not in person, of course, but they had the next best thing.
Before they left for the bubble in Toronto, the Lightning invited fans to sign a panel of glass with well wishes for the team as part of their "Be The Distant Thunder" campaign. The glass traveled with the team and was installed at Scotiabank Arena.
"We saw them putting it in and that's a nice touch and really cool that the fans would take the time to put those messages out there and it's tough to read them when you're playing but now we know it's there, we'll take a look at it," said Lightning forward Brayden Point, who scored two goals in Tampa Bay's 5-0 win against the Panthers. "It's just awesome to have that support and the fans took the time, so that's what makes it so special."
The Lightning held two signing events for season ticket holders to come to Amalie Arena in Tampa to sign the glass with blue marker. Registration was required so they could maintain physical distancing, and both events filled up within 30 minutes of the announcement.
"I know there's a lot of fans that wish they could be there in person, but for us to have that glass with all those signed names, it's kind of symbolic of the fans being part of this journey with us, so we're excited to have that glass," forward Alex Killorn said.
The Lightning also paid it forward by signing a pane of glass that was installed in the emergency room at AdventHealth Tampa as part of a wall designed to protect healthcare workers.
"I'm proud that a piece of equipment that is usually used to protect us and our fans at Amalie is going to be used to protect the frontline workers at the hospital," Tampa Bay general manager Julian BriseBois said. "They've done so much in the last few months trying to heal and protect our community and there's still so much work that's left for them to do, so I'm glad a little piece of what we do here at Amalie is going to be used to protect them and we're so greatly appreciative for what they've done for our community and continue to do for our community."
The Lightning considered their signatures a small gesture compared to the life-saving efforts by healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Those people put themselves on the line every day and if that can make them feel safer and go to work every day it's awesome," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "What they do every day can't be put into words. It's amazing."