Thursday, September 30, 2010

So I Will Pave This Road Till Glory Sets Our Broken Spirit Free

Photo by the awesome Linda Hamilton

My hockey social season continued this Tuesday with Ice Fest being hosted at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was my first time in the building in months, the last time was for an arena football game so the setting was definitely different. Ice down instead of astro turf. The building has undergone almost as much of an overhaul as the team itself. The arena has been painted, the floors on the concourses are in the process of being redone, the locker room has been renovated and decorated to go along with Guy Boucher's cerebral coaching approach. It's almost like the building itself had to be purged of the previous regime. A fresh start in pretty much every way.

The first thing I noticed was the new glass and boards system. The panes of glass are much wider with fewer dividers between them leaving a much less obstructed view of the ice. It's kind of almost like being in a hockey aquarium. The boards seem much more substantial. One thing I don't like is that the glass doesn't have the same give as it used to. When you used to pound on the glass after a goal or someone was checked face first right in front of you, the glass moved. I'm sure it will all be for the best. They probably learned their lesson after Kurtis Foster's slapshot broke so many panes last season.

Another thing that was really cool was how many past players were brought in to participate in a charity game to benefit the families of two Tampa PD officers who were killed recently. Guys like Dave Andreychuk, Brian Bradley, and Chris Dingman who are very involved with the franchise. But they also brought in guys like Stan Neckar, Darren Puppa, Enrico Ciccone, and John Tucker. The Lightning are still a relatively young franchise, especially compared to the Original Six teams which have been around for over 100 years. The Lightning aren't even 20 yet. An acknowledgment of the past is one of the things that create... and I hate to use the word since it is used so often in connection with the Yankees... but it helps create mystique. Remembering and honoring the past can be a great way to set goals for the future. In the case of the Lightning, it can also serve as a reminder of how far they have come. And how far they need to climb out of the hole OK hockey left them in.

The only home preseason game is set for this Saturday. I'll get a first hand view of the new players in a real game scenario. I am ridiculously excited. Not just because hockey season means I get out of the house more. The building is electric with possibility. This year has the potential to be huge. To prove to the league that a once proud and successful team can be again. With Steve Yzerman as my witness, we'll never be called a circus again.

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