Saturday, February 13, 2010

Never forget, never forgive

I have family living in Tampa, Florida; most notably, my older brother, who is forever badgering me to fly down and see him. I haven’t gone yet because I still have a bad taste in my mouth from a certain playoff loss back in 2004. I was all set to go see the Islanders play the Bolts in one more playoff game until Marty St. Louis ruined my party plans by beating Rick DiPietro with the winning goal at 4:07 of OT, ending the Islanders season and mine in April of 2004. I’ve never forgiven him for that.

I have a good friend who lives in Tampa as well. He happens to be the 2004 7th Man Award winner for the Lightning, Dr. David Lubin. He often laughs at my grudge against St. Louis and I am often jealous of his memories of the Stanley Cup ceremony the Bolts enjoyed after the work stoppage. But as good hockey fans, we also empathize with each other’s pain at team losses and trash talk when our teams face each other during the season.

Well, Dr. David has had the last laugh on me so far this season, as the Islanders have not been able to beat the Lightning (and that little robot machine, Marty St. Louis). The Bolts have taken all three of their matchups on our ice or theirs. I’m hoping the Isles can get one back on Saturday night.

With that said, I decided to ask Dr. Lubin a few questions about his team and his arena. Dr. Lubin is a season ticket holder, but he admits the seats are in the “nosebleed” section. It’s okay, he’s a Doctor. He knows how to treat it.

As a season ticket holder, he sees the value. “We've probably got the best priced 'cheap seats' in the league. I'd rather sit higher up, although there's nothing like seeing a game from the glass."

It is no secret that Tampa has attendance and ownership woes. Hopefully, with the proposed sale of the Lightning to Boston hedge fund manager Jeff Vinik, this will change and the franchise will once again be healthy and profitable.

Dr. Lubin has had many occasions to meet the Tampa players. I asked him what about his most memorable meeting.

“I guess, the MOST memorable was during the Stanley Cup year when I won the 7th Man contest and Elke (his girlfriend) and I got to meet Marty St. Louis after a game, and had pictures taken which he later signed. He's your favorite, right, Dee??? (See? He’s STILL rubbing it in!!) I also got a tour of the locker room and equipment area. And, by the way, St. Louis has the largest Achilles tendons I've ever seen. (Only a doctor would notice that!) I also met with Tim Taylor at a "Meet and Greet" after we won the Stanley Cup, and he was very hospitable. I had the pleasure of meeting Vinnie L's (Vincent Lecavalier's) dad at a local restaurant, and he was very friendly.”

He was very specific about his team's biggest weaknesses and strengths.

“So far, I'd say our biggest weakness is the power play in general, although [Steven] Stamkos is tied for the lead in the conference in power play goals. Didn't he score against you guys? (Yes, yes he did.) But in general, they just stand around and pass the puck too much – not enough "east-west" movement. And, in my opinion, when they get the puck in the defensive zone, they're too quick to just throw it around the boards and too often lose control, instead of bringing it out. At least they don't just "dump and chase" as they did in the old Terry Crisp days.

“Strengths? As with any team, when they're playing well and winning, it's easy: goaltending, defense, passing, scoring. They also need a bit of luck thrown in, which every winning team has.”

I've haven't been to the St. Pete Times Forum, so I wanted to know about the in-arena experience.

“I love my seats, they're a great bargain. I love lower bowl seats up near the top, but can't afford those on a regular basis. I also love listening to our radio announcer, Dave Mishkin, call the game with Phil Esposito as the color analyst, while watching AT THE GAME, with headsets on. (DAMN! I want to be able to do that!) Unfortunately, the radio broadcast is about three seconds ahead of the TV broadcast.

“I wish the food and the prices were better at the game. We have an Outback [Steakhouse] there which isn't bad, but we lost a great burger place. Now they have a place that serves tapas. 'Tapas' is the name of a wide variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. They can be cold or warm, and are usually small amounts of food. But I want them to BRING BACK THE BURGERS! (Not exactly a health specialist are you Dr. David? Just kidding.) I suspect prices are a bit high all over, but I think it affects attendance.”

Yes, but do you have Bavarian nuts that send that sweet smell of warm cinnamon throughout the concourse? Keep your Tapas, I’ve got warm pecans! Truthfully, I’m starting to think that, as hockey fans, our experiences are all very similar. It is the sport we love, and when our boys are home, we’re happy. Tonight, I’d be happy with two points!

1 comment:

Dominik said...

>>St. Louis has the largest Achilles tendons I've ever seen. (Only a doctor would notice that!)
Unreal. A detail I never even imagined.

So there's like a network of these 7th (wo)men then, eh Dee? :)

I understand your lingering resentment toward St. Louis, but man he is an impressive player. Fun to watch when he's not doing it to the Isles.