You may have heard about it already, but much like the Ottawa Senators in the first round, the Tampa Bay Lightning are attempting to restrict ticket sales to those with a credit card billed to a Florida address. The problem with this, like what the Senators experienced last round, is that there are a ton of fans of the Montreal Canadiens living in Florida.
Florida is among the top retirement locations for older residents of Quebec, and as such, many families take vacations there, to soak up sun and visit family. Our very own Mike Obrand moved down to Florida with his wife last year, and he's not alone.
While the insecurity of restricting ticket sales is sad enough, you kind of get it for a sunbelt hockey team. Tampa Bay does much better in attendance than the other expansion teams they're often associated with, but they still can't compete in terms of fanbase size with the likes of the Montreal Canadiens. It's slight more excusable for them to pull a stunt like that, as opposed to a Canadian market like Ottawa.
The weird thing about the way the Lightning have gone about this though, is that their reasoning isn't nearly as palatable as Ottawa's. While Ottawa maintained that they wanted to create a good 'home atmosphere', something every team would reasonably want, it isn't the Lightning organization that drove this policy, it was season ticket holders.
According to the Lightning's executive vice president of communications, Bill Wickett, Tampa Bay season ticket holders were "uncomfortable" sitting next to fans of opposing teams. That's... weird.
To add to the Lightning's odd policies, they've also banned Canadiens jerseys in certain sections of Amalie Arena, giving out shirts of a 'neutral colour' to wear instead. It's not explicitly stated what would happen if a Canadiens fan insisted on wearing their jersey, but the insinuation is they would be removed from the arena.
That's right, the Tampa Bay Lightning are treating their arena like certain Floridian suburbs, regulating what people can and can't wear, because their season ticket holders are "uncomfortable" with things that are different. That doesn't sound very American to me, isn't America the land of the free? The home of the brave? I guess not brave enough to sit beside someone who might be cheering for another team.
And this isn't the first time Tampa Bay has pulled this kind of freedom trampling, just ask Bruins fan, and therefore unbiased observer, Sarah Connors, who knows a thing or two about freedom:
The Tampa Bay Lightning hate America.
Back in 2011, a lil' upstart team from a lil' city in the northeast U-S-of A was making a nice little run for themselves to the Stanley Cup. It was all fun and games and the PR department got into it and made these cute little advertisements. America! Poking fun at your opponents through advertising! USA, this is how we do.
And Tampa ruined it all.
First they were made for Flyers fans. Philadelphia fans are the biggest shitlords in all of professional sport. Did they take offense? NO! Because sports are funny sometimes, a little bit of banter never hurt anyone, and their fanbase knows a good zinger when they see one. Good. Yes. Excellent. This is how you sports.
And then that team from the good lord's favourite part of the United States swept the Flyers, and it was on to Tampa.
TAMPA. That underpants-stain of a city that can't handle...well, anything.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is exhibit A, with which I will prove that the denizens of Florida hate freedom, justice, and the American Way.
These posters were hung in and around that 17,565 capacity arena of the team opposing Tampa.
None of these posters are offensive in any way. Oh sure, a little teasing about the fact that your fanbase is small. A little joshin' about the fact that Florida consists mainly of old people. But my fellow hockey fans, I ask you: WHERE IS THE LIE??? These posters contain no libel, no slander, no nothing. And yet some trashcan of a radio host had his jimmies rustled so hard by these posters - which, might I add, were exactly 1342.2 miles away from his beloved St. Petersburg Times Arena - that he actually called in threats to the offending team's PR department.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH, BUDDY!!! THAT'S HOW AMERICA WORKS!
Why do you hate freedom of speech, Tampa? The same radio announcer crowed when your fans threw garbage at your team's opponents. Not even PHILLY did that (this time). Tampa, in 2011, made even PHILLY fans look good. At least Philly loves America. That whole Lauren Hart thing is awesome.
The posters were taken down, the threats taken seriously... and then Tampa's ass was kicked right out of the playoffs. AS THEY SHOULD BE THIS YEAR AS WELL.
Go to hell, Tampa, and take your freedom hating ways with you. 2004, never again!
So there you have it, the antics of the Lightning organization are so anti-America, a Bruins fan is trashing them on a Habs site. That's really all the info you need. The Lightning hate America, they hate freedom, and they should be sent back to the natural sport of Florida; golf.