And with all the recent trade talk/rumors that are swirling around Tampa Bay superstar Vinny Lecavalier, I thought it was time to chime in.
Here's hoping he stays in Tampa.
You see, I'm looking at this situation differently. In order to be viable, the sunbelt teams needs to keep their superstars, their drawing cards. And while there's no doubt that a player of his caliber would bring to the Bolts a boatload of quality NHL players, I can assure you none of them will engage the fans of Tampa the way Lecavalier has done for many seasons. Yes, there's a very good chance the Lightning would become a better team because of a deal.
That's beside the point.
The Bolts would slide into sports oblivion, if that hasn't already happened.
No drawing card, no interest.
2008 was a brutal year in terms of personal finance for hundreds of thousands of people across the planet. As entertainment dollars continue to dry up, fans need reasons to spend, reasons to buy tickets, purchase jerseys and frequent watering holes before and after games. No offense to the Lightning organization, but players like Eminger, Vrbata and Halpern don't exactly make you want to rush to the ticket window.
It's the same for other teams in non-traditional market teams. How many people would show up in Atlanta to watch a Kovalchuk-less Thrashers team? Would anyone care in Raleigh without the likes of Rod Brind'Amour and Cam Ward?
Yes, this is serious stuff.
The Lightning, Thrashers and Hurricanes struggle every day for media attention. Just hang out in Atlanta for a few days and you'll know what I mean. Rarely will the the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports section offer up a Thrashers game story. Attend a game day skate and the media throng includes one beat writer and the broadcasters from Sportsouth.
Lecavalier is Tampa's Kovalchuk. And in the minds of fans of both teams, as long as they can continue cheering each of them, there's hope.
Memo to Len Barrie and Brian Lawton: No matter how tempting it might be to deal your franchise's cornerstone, stop and think about the ripple effect it might....uh, will have.
I guarantee you won't like what you see.