By now, we are all aware that the 2022-2023 Lightning season has ended. After appearing in three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, the Bolts’ post season this year came to an end after just six games. However, Lightning fans still have many reasons to be proud of their team. Win or lose, our boys in blue consistently conduct themselves with integrity and respect for their fans and the community. They have put together an organization that is consistently a winner- both on and off the ice.
Winning On the Ice
Over the past several seasons, the Bolts have given their fans all we could ask for. And then some! Three straight Stanley Cup Final appearances, including two championships and record-setting performances by many of the individual players. But it’s not just about setting records or winning games. There’s a culture associated with Lightning hockey. When NHL players come to Tampa Bay, they’re not just joining a winning hockey team. They’re joining a winning culture.
And while it’s true that they did not make it out of the first round this year, few can criticize the effort they put forth. They outplayed the Toronto Maple Leafs for the majority of five of their six games. They didn’t take cheap shots. And they didn’t whine about the referees (even though the referees gave them plenty of cause). As always, they conducted themselves with class and integrity.
Winning Off the Ice
The Bolts’ winning ways are not just visible on the ice. On Sunday, March 12th of this year, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Winnipeg Jets. However, they had, perhaps, a more important victory immediately after the game. It was “Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night” at Amalie Arena. And once the hard fought hockey game concluded, the Bolts players showered, put on their “Sunday Best” and got back to work. At giving back to the community.
The Yerrid Foundation had assembled a group a children and their families who are battling cancer. The group lined the hallways outside the team dressing rooms at Amalie. And what a treat they got! Despite their on-ice loss, the Lightning players and coaches came out full of cheer and put smiles on the faces of the mass of adoring fans. They signed jerseys and notepads. They shook hands and they chatted. And they laughed together. That night was just one example of an organization that always finds way to give back to the community.
Winning By Giving Back
The Lightning players take pride in giving back to the community that supports them. They visit schools and hospitals. They host an annual holiday party for children battling pediatric cancer. Additionally, many of our players have created their own customized philanthropic programs related to their own personal passions.
Steven Stamkos is affiliated with the Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay, and Victor Hedman with The Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Alex Killorn (our Harvard graduate) supports Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, while Nick Paul has recently started a foundation to donate to support mental health in the community.
Winning Through Community Heroes
The Lightning Community Hero program has been lauded across the league. The program was launched in 2011 by owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny. It is a collaboration of the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation. The program has recognized grassroots heroes who have made a positive impact in the community by awarding them with a Lightning Community Hero award. In every Lightning home game, an honoree is celebrated with an in-game video that illustrates how the hero is using his or her life to help others less fortunate. The Foundation presents the Hero with a $50,000 grant designated to the charities of his or her choice.
As of 2021, the Lightning organization had celebrated 503 heroes and donated over $27.52M in 1,026 donations to 625 unique non-profits throughout the Tampa Bay program.
The Class of the League
Hockey fans across the league have marveled at the on-ice success of the Tampa Bay Lightning over the years. Some have even thrown around the “dynasty” term. But the praise for this organization does not end there (though, three consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances from 2020-2022 certainly is nothing to sneeze at). The winning ways of the Bolts extend well beyond the surface of the ice. The generosity and community involvement among the players, coaches, and owners are unmatched in the NHL. The organization has created a culture of winning. And it is evident both on and off the ice. The Tampa Bay Lightning are truly the class of the NHL.
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