07 August 2007
One of the few success stories for the NHL's southern expansion has been the Tampa Bay Lightning. Maybe partially because Tampa doesn't have an NBA franchise, but they actually have carved out a nice little niche for themselves there. I don't think even the biggest critics of the NHL's southern march can point at Tampa as an example of a failure in expansion.
Well now news that former Columbus GM and Florida Panthers coach Doug MacClean has bought the Tampa Lightning, along with a group of TV/Movie investors probably spells doom for the franchise. Why does that spell doom... let me restate former Columbus GM and Florida Panthers coach Doug MacLean has bought the Tampa Lightning. Lightning fans have to feel like that's the kiss of Death.
Until this season MacLean was the only GM in Columbus history. In a related story, Columbus has never drafted higher than 8th in their history. The Columbus' organization has the 9th best farm system right now which sounds good. When you consider they have never drafted outside the top 10 (which means they have had lots of high 2nd and high 3rd round choices as well) and they are still ranked behind teams who have consistently made the playoffs like the Oilers and Wild, and teams who have hope for next season, like the Rangers, Blues and Canadians.
It's too bad. The Lightning have actually been one of the better NHL franchises over the last 5-10 years. Faux Rumors put them in their "middle 20" in organizational rankings, and I think an argument can be made they could be in the top 10. They have a likable star in Martin St. Louis, and an unlikable one in Lecavalier.
Lightning fans, and everyone else I think, were pretty shocked about this one.
MacLean has had some success in the NHL, as he coached the 1996 Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals. that lead to this:
On a side note:
forget the rats, throw the hatsman I miss Gary Thorne calling hockey
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