The “Tampa Bay Lightning” (also known as the Bolts) is a professional ice hockey team situated in Tampa, Florida. The team is part of the Atlantic Division, which plays in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team usually plays their home games at the Amalie Arena located in Tampa. In their history of playing in the league, they won one Stanley Cup championship during the 2003-2004 season.
Tampa’s Franchise History
The National Hockey League (NHL) revealed the possible expansions during the late 1980s. At the time, the Tampa and St. Petersburg were fighting to get the franchise as an expansion. The area of St. Petersburg was led by Peter Karmanos and Jim Rutherford, while the area of Tampa was led by Phil Esposito and Tony Esposito. During the time’s ongoing bidding, it seemed like the St. Petersburg group was the primary lead.
In fact, the Karmanos and Rutherford group had better financial support compared with the Esposito group and one of the Esposito had backed out a few months before the official bidding. However, due to the help of Kokusai Green, who was a syndicate of Japanese businesses, the franchise was awarded as an expansion to Tampa for the 1992-1993 season.
Before the team has drafted players, they first built their own management under the ownership of Phil Esposito. At the time, Phil mounted himself as the president and the general manager of the team and Tony Esposito as the main scout. The team’s head coach was Terry Crisp (former head coach of Calgary Flames). The name “Tampa Bay Lightning” was created when Tampa became the “Lightning Capital North America”.
The NHL career of the Lightnings turned out well during their early 1990s. But, the team has experienced financial failures under the ownership of Kokusai Green. In fact, the team was called as the financial nightmare with a debt amounted to 236% of its value.
In 1998, Kokusai sold the franchise to Art Williams, who was the former owner of Birmingham Barracudas of the Canadian Football League (CFL).