It’s too late now to say sorry, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are trying their best anyways.
You likely know the story by now but in case you missed it amid a frenetic Stanley Cup playoffs, the 62-win Lightning crashed out in historic fashion by getting swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In an effort to comfort his distraught fan base, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik penned an apology letter to his season ticket holders.
“To state the obvious, the 2018-19 season did not end as we all hoped it would. I am the first to admit our collective disappointment at losing in four games in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs,” Vinik wrote.
“While we take great pride and satisfaction in our team’s accomplishments in the regular season – winning 62 of our 82 games and the Presidents’ Trophy, both fantastic achievements — we accept full ownership and responsibility for our result in the postseason.”
Tampa Bay’s season was by all objective measures, the best since the salary cap was instituted. Nikita Kucherov posted the most points (128) in the cap era, while Steven Stamkos recorded a career-best season as well. The Lightning led the NHL in power-play percentage (28.2), penalty kill percentage (tied with Columbus at 85.0) and goals for (319) as their first-round exit shocked the hockey community in a postseason replete with stunning upsets.
It may be cruel to list all the individual award nominees too, but Kucherov may receive the Hart Trophy in what is shaping up to be the most awkward presentation in league history, Victor Hedman is a finalist for the Norris Trophy, Andrei Vasilevskiy is in the running for the Vezina and Jon Cooper is contending for the Jack Adams Award.
After being eliminated by the Blue Jackets, the Lightning tweeted out a heartfelt apology to their fans but perhaps it didn’t resonate at the time.
We don’t have any words and we know you don’t want to hear them.
We understand your anger, your frustration, your sadness. Everything you’re feeling – we get it.
This isn’t the ending we imagined, and certainly not the one we wanted. Thank you for being there the entire way.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 17, 2019
The Lightning aren’t the only team writing apology letters, as the Edmonton Oilers also wrote one to their season ticket holders, although they may have had genuine reason to do so.
Vinik wrote that he has full confidence in head coach Jon Cooper and general manager Julien BriseBois — it would be a draconian measure if he were to dismiss them following the regular season they had, after all.
With that said, it may be difficult for Lightning fans to get up for the regular season, knowing that dominating through April ultimately means little in the end.
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