Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has nothing but praise for his players in the wake of the Bolts Stanley Cup run.
“We had a great year, a lot of great experience for our guys. We won three rounds of the playoffs against original six teams, so I give a lot of credit to our players, to our coach, to our whole organization for just an outstanding year,” Vinik said.
That’s not to say there isn’t some measure of disappointment. “When you get that close to your ultimate goal, two games away from winning the Stanley Cup, it’s a blow, and it’s not easy,” Vinik explained. That is precisely why Vinik, just like most Bolts fans, is hungry for the future. “We think we’re going to win a Stanley Cup in the years ahead,” he said.
To achieve that though, the team needs all the right players in place. Vinik says Steven Stamkos is priority number one. In fact, general manager Steve Yzerman announced today his most immediate goal is to get Stamkos to sign during the offseason.
As for the impact of that move on the rest of the team, Vinik remains hopeful but realistic.
“Sometimes along the way, like you’ve seen the last few years, difficult decisions have to be made, but we have a core of great young players, great young people, and everything we can do, we’re going to try to do to keep this group together for years to come,” Vinik said.
And to the fans, he has one message.
“Thank you,” he said. “The fact that our team and our players with their progress got to touch people in this area and these fans with their emotions, we feel like that’s terrific.”