Greetings from sunny Florida.
Despite rumors on local sports talk radio of my demise, I am still based here in Hockey Bay, USA. However, I am no longer managing the Lightning. Having resigned on July 11, I am doing everything possible to keep myself prepared, up-to-date, and ready to manage another NHL team when the opportunity arises.
While finishing 30th last season was not what any of us in Tampa intended, I nonetheless look back with great pride on what we accomplished during my tenure as GM. Four consecutive post-season appearances, two Southeast Division titles, one first-overall finish in the East and a Stanley Cup title in six full seasons at the helm (including the lockout year) in a non-traditional market. A pretty solid performance, I’d say.
In addition to some freelance scouting and some work with NHL Radio on XM, I will also be writing a blog for The Hockey News. My goal with the blog is to give you some behind-the-scenes information based on my experiences as a GM and also to share with you my take on the news of the day in our great game.
Had you asked me when training camp opened last season if I thought the Lightning were going to be playing for the Stanley Cup in June, I would have told you we had quite a few holes to fill first. At the same time, had you told me we were going to finish dead last in the NHL, I would have said not only were you smoking something illegal, but you were inhaling as well.
How incredibly quickly things can and do change! It started before the season began in August with the announcement of the team’s sale to a group led by former Columbus president and GM Doug MacLean. It continued post-game on the night of our first pre-season contest in September when Dan Boyle’s skate fell from his locker and severed three tendons in his wrist. Other injuries mounted in a way we had never before experienced, including Boyle requiring a second surgery on his wrist. The sale of the team fell through, only to be resurrected a short time later by one of the original members of the first group of buyers.
In short, it was a roller-coaster ride all season.
I will share some of those ups and downs with you this season. For the rest, you’ll have to wait until I write my book. In any event, I hope we can have some fun along the way as I blog for THN.com every other week. Camps are now open, some pre-season games have been played and so it’s with great enthusiasm that I say, “Drop the puck!”
Jay Feaster is a former GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he took over in 2002 and helped build the team into a Stanley Cup champion in 2004. As he did last season, he will blog on THN.com throughout the 2008-09 campaign. Read his other entries HERE.