© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000
I loved the special section you did on the Lightning and Vincent Lecavalier. I am originally from Pittsburgh and have been living in Tampa for about four years. I know that hockey takes a back seat to the Bucs, college ball and other sports, but it was nice to see that a local newspaper is finally taking a sincere interest in hockey.
I know it is not the media's job to advertise and promote hockey, but I feel that you play a partial role in getting people interested in the sport. The Lightning hasn't been having great seasons lately, but with Vinny in the driver's seat, that may change. He could become a star. I saw it happen about 15 years ago with Mario Lemieux. The media were not interested in him at first, and look what happened.
But I mainly wanted to say that I was delighted to see the special hockey edition. Keep up with the hockey news and I'll continue to buy your paper over the other non-hockey compliant paper in town.
-- Steven Sinagra, via e-mail
The Lightning should receive a 10-minute misconduct penalty. An announced crowd of 20,686 on opening night? C'mon, capacity is listed at 19,758 and I saw at least 3,000 empty seats.
-- David Lubin, Tampa
I would like to express my disdain toward several Lightning fans. I accompanied a friend on a business trip to Tampa and we went to opening night. We are from Dallas and, being avid Stars and hockey fans, were wearing our Stars paraphernalia. We sat three rows from the ice and cheered loudly for the Lightning the entire night.
During one trip to the restroom, we were verbally abused by a drunk Lightning "fan." He saw our Stars gear and told us we had no business being at the game because Dallas wasn't playing, even though we told him we were cheering for the Lightning. He continued to yell at us all the way to the restroom.
We received this kind of treatment from different people all night long. I am ashamed for Lightning fans, who should understand and appreciate our fervor for hockey at any level. Needless to say, I will never again spend a dime of my money at a Lightning game.
-- Stephanie LaNoue, Plano, Texas
I write this with great relief after hearing the Devil Rays did not fire Larry Rothschild as manager. Thank you Chuck LaMar for getting one thing right this year. It would have been easy to blame him for all the Rays' problems.
I follow the Rays, and every time they come to Detroit we go see them play. It is a shame Rays fans don't have a chance to hear what other teams' announcers have to say about the team and the job Larry Rithschild has done. We have heard the Braves, White Sox, Blue Jays, Indians and Tigers announcers praise the job he has done and have wondered what in the world the Rays were thinking when they put this team together. Or should I say, when Lamar put this team together.
What free agent except Gerald Williams has produced a career year while at Tampa Bay?
Rothschild has made mistakes and I hope he continues to improve. It is a credit to Rothschild and the young players what they did the last week of the season. After losing 10 in a row, it would have been easy to throw in the towel, but they fought back. Except for the blown save by an overpriced closer, finishing the season winning eight of 10 against contending teams is a big step in the right direction. The kids got to play and get experience, and Rothschild made sure they played hard.
-- D. O'Brien, Petersburg, Mich.
Vince Naimoli has a big problem. Not with the players, not with the managers or coaches, but with the Tampa Bay fans. They are rooting for the visiting teams. Like it or not, many of the local folks are transplants.
Those of us who are transplants but chose to become Devil Ray fans so we could have our own local team are in a minority. Changing the perspective of the non-Devil Ray fans would go a long way toward bringing a winning team to Tampa Bay.
It happened with the Bucs (well, until the past three games, anyway). But it took time. Over the years, the team built its fan base. The stadium is now full, and the team wins more than it loses.
I'm not so sure the Devil Rays have the time to allow the fan base to build itself. If Naimoli is just in it to make money, he can pick up his team and take it someplace else. If he seriously wants to keep the team here, he needs to get the fans interested in the local team.
-- Sally Horrell, St. Petersburg
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