Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Now you’ve Seen Stamkos; Boyle rumor squelched
Posted Jun 26, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Jun 27, 2008 at 12:15 AM
Wow, what a day. Sorry nothing got posted up on this wonderfully viewed blog, especially in the past week. I know everybody has been hanging on edge waiting to see what news dropped out of the sky today. Well, there was no news, only copious amounts of rain.
But that doesn’t mean it was a slow day in Lightning land as first overall draft pick Steven Stamkos was in town for his first visit to the area that will no doubt become his second home in a short while.
Before I get to that, however, I had a chance to speak to Barry Melrose this afternoon after the Stamkos press conference and one of the things he said in regards to defenseman Dan Boyle, who of course was part of the rumor mill on TSN when it was suggested he is quietly being shopped around the league.
Melrose said “As far as I’m concerned, Dan Boyle is going to be quarterbacking the power play and play 25 minutes a night.’‘
We also have to remember that when Oren Koules spoke the other day at the press conference to formally introduce the ownership group that of the top five available free agents, there was only one they wouldn’t go after because he was a puck-moving defenseman (Brian Campbell) and they already have one of the best in the league on their team. So then it must make sense that they want to shop him around.
Sure, at the trade deadline there was plenty of talk that the ownership group wanted to trade both Brad Richards and Dan Boyle, but eventually signed Boyle to a contract instead. To me it would be a mistake to let Boyle go anyway. I know there are plenty of detractors out there when it comes to Boyle, but there is nobody else on the roster or in the system who can do what Boyle does in terms of being able to carry the puck up the ice and he’s one of the best on his first pass out of the zone. The only one who comes somewhat close is Paul Ranger, and his strength is passing the puck, not carrying it up ice.
Now, onto the big subject of the day.
I was able to tag along today with Steven Stamkos for about 90 minutes or so as he made his first trip to Tampa. The highlight was watching him walk into the Forum for the first time with his family. As they started to make their way to the locker room area, the entire building staff was lined up in their “Seen Stamkos’’ t-shirts cheering and applauding as he walked in. Stamkos walked down the line and shook everybody’s hand. “It seems like there must have been a hundred hands,’’ Stamkos later said.
He got to hang out in the players’ lounge and walked out to the arena where the ice normally would be as the “Seen Stamkos’’ in house ad was on the overhead scoreboard. Stamkos then did a press conference for the local media followed by a session with season ticket holders, along with Melrose, that included a question and answer sequence with Dave Mishkin serving as the moderator.
And I’ve got to tell you, if the Stamkos family (Lesley and Chris plus daughter Sarah) had any doubts about the fans in Tampa, they were alleviated today. You see, the Canadian media often slants some of their thoughts in the direction that we don’t deserve a hockey team down here and that the market is too non-traditional and should just stick to football.
Well, on short notice and dodging serious rain drops and lightning bolts, season ticket holders showed up in droves. The room set aside for the function inside Medallions was packed for the question and answer session. And after, Stamkos and Melrose sat down to sign autographs for fans. I wandered down to see how long the line was to get Stamkos’ autograph and I just kept on walking and walking and walking and walking. I’m not sure I ever got to the end of the line. I was flabbergasted, really. They had to start speeding things up so that Stamkos and his family could get to a 7:30 p.m. dinner reservation at Jackson’s on Harbor Island.
I can only assume they made it.
The line for Melrose, by the way, was quite long as well. I didn’t walk down to that end since I was so tired from walking down the Stamkos line. (Hey, remember I’ve been working on a bumb ankle for two months, it doesn’t take much to get me winded these days!!!!)
For anybody who was at the function to See Stamkos, what did you think?