Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Lesson for Lightning: Meeting the Detroit Standard Still Far Away

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman spoke Thursday morning about just wanting to get the game against his former club over with.

Without a doubt, after a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the visiting Detroit Red Wings, Yzerman’s Bolts are happy to move on.

While he has continually insisted that the showdown with the team for which he became an icon during his playing career was not a big deal, it had to at least be a little weird for Yzerman to see his Lightning facing his Wings.

Come to think of it, there was a little bit of weird for all involved throughout the evening, beginning with an ovation for Yzerman himself, shown briefly on the LightningVision scoreboard, that seemed almost like a “Thank you” from longtime Detroit fans and bested anything in recent memory from the home crowd in appreciation.

Journey may have fabricated “South Detroit” in their overplayed anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’” but it sure seemed like that was a very real location for last night’s game – and the temporary mailing address for the St. Pete Times Forum.

A formidable sea of red is expected any time Detroit is in town but last night’s crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Red Wings. It wasn’t completely unreasonable to expect the goal horn to blare each time the Wings scored – not with the roar of the crowd that came along with each tally. At one point, there was an audible chorus of boos toward a Lightning logo flashed on the screen that the home fans were not able to drown out.

Just weird.

But bizarro-world truly came to life when the octopi began hitting the ice. Yes, Detroit’s time-honored tradition of tossing dead mollusks onto the playing surface to celebrate Red Wing successes apparently travels well too, as three octopuses made their way to ice level on Thursday. [Note: In researching for today’s piece, it has become clear that both octopi and octopuses are acceptable plural forms of octopus. Learn something new every day…]

All in good fun, one must suppose. Until, that is, a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning ice crew did his best Al Sobotka impersonation when cleaning up one of the fallen cephalopods, picking it up from the ice and twirling it over his head as he skated off, much to the delight of the invading, already frenzied Red Wing portion of the crowd and incensing Lightning fans and fellow employees alike.

The team would not provide an official comment on the incident but it was clear that officials were none too pleased with the stunt. Almost certainly, the employee will be disciplined.

Having so many of the opposition’s fans in the building cannot be an excuse for the Lightning, naturally, and captain Vincent Lecavalier effectively shrugged it off post-game.

“I’m kind of used to it,” Lecavalier said, having played here his entire career, noting that, here in Florida, we see a similar turnout from fans from Philadelphia, New York, Montreal and so on regularly.

More importantly, both Lecavalier and head coach Guy Boucher expect the club to learn from a team that Boucher calls “The standard in our league.”

“I thought we played a pretty good game but obviously that’s not good enough against Detroit,” said Lecavalier. “Our standards have to be even higher. We need to learn from this. “

Added Boucher, “We just got beat by a better team than us. This is the best team in the league – the most experienced.”

“We want to get this team to that level. We don’t know when it’s going to happen but, certainly, we’ve made giant leaps being where we are right now.”

The loss very well can be an impactful learning tool for the Bolts, who can start with taking a step or two toward Detroit’s level of composure, discipline and functionality as a unit, the latter something Lecavalier touched on specifically.

“They really play as a unit of five on the ice,” he said. “We started doing that in the second and we got our opportunities. We’ll learn from that.”

“Our goal is to get [to Detroit’s level] and get better.”

For all of the success that Tampa Bay has had this season (none of which should be discounted, of course), Thursday night was a small taste of humble pie and a reminder that reaching that upper echelon – the Detroit standard, if you will – is still somewhere in the distance for the Lightning.

And that’s a lesson that is already abundantly clear to the head coach.

“We have a ways to go get to that level.”

With two months until the playoffs, a few steps in that direction, at least, would serve the Lightning quite well.

JJ on Twitter
The Bolts Beat podcast archive

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: guy+boucher, octopus+twirl, steve+yzerman, vincent+lecavalier


Tripwire32's avatar

Almost certainly, the employee will be disciplined.

Too bad, it always seems, the need to call for discipline is required. What comes to mind is taking money or a firing. A simple discussion is probably all that’s required. We’re talking about someone’s livelihood vs being caught up in a moment during a game; harmless bad decision. Make the correction, move on.

I dunno. That’s just me. Maybe I’m making more of it than necessary too.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 02/18/11 at 12:59 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

SnLO: I hear ya. My initial thought was, “That kid’s going to get a real talking-to,” which I actually relayed to a team employee. That’s when it started sounding like he’d get a bit more than that…

The kid/guy (not real sure of an age here but usually these positions are filled by younger folks) got caught up in the moment, yes, but a split-second’s worth of thought would have had to make him realize it was a boner of an idea.

But it was, for sure, an ugly mark on this game.


Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 02/18/11 at 01:16 PM ET

datsyukdanglesyou's avatar

What was wrong with what he did?  I don’t see the big deal.

Posted by datsyukdanglesyou on 02/18/11 at 01:29 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

Is it just me or do other people think that visiting fans booing the hometown team is uncalled for?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cheering for your favorite team, but show some respect for the home fans and team.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 02/18/11 at 01:31 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 02/18/11 at 10:31 AM ET

This.  Regardless of the venue, cheer FOR YOUR team, not AGAINST ANOTHER team.  If you’re proud of your team, show it by staying classy (tophats and monocles not required).

As for the guy twirling the octopus, well, not a good decision, but, really, if the majority of the crowd is enjoying it, then what’s the problem?  This is an entertainment busines..let them entertain the fans and get their money’s worth for those expensive tickets.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 02/18/11 at 02:53 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

cheer FOR YOUR team, not AGAINST ANOTHER team.

One of the things I most hate Chicago fans for. The “Detroit Sucks” chant says nothing about the Blackhawks. What a bunch of knobs.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 02/18/11 at 03:10 PM ET

SYF's avatar

One of the things I most hate Chicago fans for. The “Detroit Sucks” chant says nothing about the Blackhawks. What a bunch of knobs.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 02/18/11 at 12:10 PM ET

Aaahhh…leave ‘em alone.  It’s good to have a Guinness and a Red Wings-themed reclining chair all waiting for us inside their heads.  The view’s wonderful.

As for that guy twirling the octopus, he’s definitely going to get a talk and it will be a good one.  I was shocked he did it but in the next second, I was amused.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 02/18/11 at 06:19 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com