Remembering Bill Davidson

Tragically, the Lightning had a death in the family this week, as former owner Bill Davidson passed away at the age of 86. Davidson, who built a billion dollar business, sports and entertainment empire, won three NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, one NHL championship with the Lightning, one IHL championship with the Detroit Vipers, and three WNBA championships with the Detroit Shock. In short, Davidson left a tradition of success wherever he went, whether it was in building his family's glass company into a global giant, or building the Palace of Auburn Hills without a dime of public money.

I don't know if I'm the best person to write about Bill Davidson, because I always got the impression from watching Davidson that if you locked he and I in a room we probably wouldn't have agreed about anything: politics, business, sports, etc. Then again, maybe that makes me the perfect person to write about Davidson's impact on the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise, because I've never really viewed Davidson through the lens of doe-eyed admiration or sentimentality.

Did I have disagreements with the way Davidson ran the Lightning? Sure. I especially had disagreements with the trust he places in Palace Sports and Entertainment executive Tom Wilson who, in a fit of PR genius, was quoted in the Detroit papers the day after Davidson bought the Lightning as claiming PS&E didn't care about the hockey team and only was interested in turning the then Ice Palace and the parcels of land surrounding it into a profit generating machine. Davidson ran the Lightning with a patience, coolness, and dispassion that, in my mind, surely came from being an owner who wasn't from Tampa and probably always viewed the Lightning as a stepchild to his beloved Pistons. Some of his budget decisions probably prolonged the time it took for the Lightning to rebuild, and the faith he also placed in some of the former hockey operations people from his Detroit Vipers probably also prolonged the time that Lightning fans had to suffer watching last place hockey.

But, with that said, I can't argue that Bill Davidson didn't improve the condition of the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise immeasurably in the time that he owned it. It's also inarguable, in my mind, that the franchise has slid backwards, to a degree, since he sold the team. Davidson and his PS&E management brought professionalism and real-world experience to a franchise that had been nothing short of a zoo in the years that it was owned by Japanese consortium Kokusai, and flamboyant braggart Art Williams. He might have done it at a slow and steady pace, but he brought a championship to a Lightning team that only managed two playoff wins in all the preceeding years before he bought the club.

That, ultimately, is the only objective way we can measure a man's success in his life's endeavors, whether they're in his family, his business, or in a multi-million dollar sports franchise. Did you leave it better off than when you came into it? Bill Davidson left the Lightning better off than when he gained control of the team, turning it from one of the NHL's longest running jokes into a team that, for a time, was touted as the very model of how a franchise should be run in a small, Southern market. That's the legacy Bill Davidson left behind, and that's why this writer and everyone at Bolt Prospects extends our condolences to the family and friends of Bill Davidson on this sad day. And, that's why, no matter what happens, the Davidson family will always have a place in the Tampa Bay Lightning family.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 3/13

Victoria fails to clinch ... Barberio and Moncton don't fail to clinch ... Luca! Luca! Luca! ... Tokarski beats Fadden's Americans to keep pace with Kelowna ... Wright and Vancouver lose again ... CHL playoff race updates.

NCAA Game Night: 3/13

Hockey East Tournament - Round 1 - Game 1
Massachusetts Minutemen 2 @ #4 Northeastern Huskies 1
D John Wessbecker UMASS: 0-0-0, Even

UMASS pulls a big Game 1 upset on the road over top team in country. Go for knockout blow Saturday in Game 2.

Hockey East Tournament - Round 1 - Game 1
UMASS-Lowell River Hawks 4 @ #7 Vermont Catamounts 3 OT
F Matt Marshall Ver: Did not play

Lowell scores with two seconds left in first overtime period...Vermont faces elimination.

AHL Game Night 3/13: Admirals at Senators

Tough night in Binghamton.

NOR-2
BNG-6

Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 15 shots for the loss before giving way to Craig Kowalski who allowed 2 goals on 11 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
BNG Hamel, (24) (Slattengren, Glass), 10:45
BNG Slattengren, (10) (Mauldin), 11:48
BNG Bomersback, (2) (Konkle, McGregor), 15:05
BNG Mauldin, (16) (Hamel), 15:58

Third Period
BNG Pope, (2) (Taormina, Zubov), 5:11
NOR Lawrence, (4) (Konopka, Segal), 5:39
BNG Smith, (20) (Carkner), 8:46 (SH)
NOR Hooton, (2) (Simek), 12:59

Wow, a Chris Lawrence siting.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night 3/12: Lightning at Leafs

A crushing blow in the Tavares/Hedman Derby.

TB-4
TOR-1

Karri Ramo allowed just 1 goal on 21 shots for the win, playing both ends of the back-to-back. Getting 3 points out of 4 in a back-to-back situation is another big step for a guy trying to win a job in Tampa next season.

First Period
03:21 TOR Stempniak (13), (Blake, Schenn)

Second Period
05:25 TB Pettinger (4), (Karsums)
17:19 TB St. Louis (25), (Stamkos, Malone)

Third Period
14:35 TB Malone (24), (Murphy, Lecavalier)(PP)
17:54 TB Szczechura (3), (unassisted)

Noah Welch was +1 with 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 16:40.

Matt Smaby had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 22:42.

Paul Szczechura had 1 goal on 1 shot with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 14:55. He was also 4-for-4 on draws.

Martins Karsums had 1 assist and was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:30.

Richard Petiot was +1 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:31.

These prospect stat reports are getting as long as Smaby's arm.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Niskala, Frolunda Eliminate Harju, Lulea

3/11:
Janne Niskala had 2 goals and 2 assists, all on the power play, as Frolunda put Lulea on the brink of elimination defeating the upstarts 5-1. Frolunda took a 3-1 series lead with the victory. Johan Harju was scoreless in the match.

3/12:
Lulea's season ended with a nailbiting 1-0 loss to Frolunda. Janne Niskala and Johan Harju were scoreless in the match.

Harju ends his playoffs with 4 goals and 5 points in 5 games. The power forward was also -2 and 48% on draws. Niskala's 4 point game in Game Four was all of his scoring in the five game series. The defenseman was also -2 in the series.

Admirals Announce Clear Day Roster

Norfolk Admirals General Manager Mike Butters today announced the players on the team’s Clear Day Roster.

Each American Hockey League team submits a Clear Day roster to the league consisting of a maximum of 22 players. According to AHL by-laws, only those players listed on a team’s Clear Day roster are eligible to compete in the remainder of the 2008-09 AHL regular season and in the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension.

The one notable prospect missing from the Admirals Clear Day Roster is forward Paul Szczechura, which implies he will be spending the remainder of the 2008-09 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Also, six (6) players listed on the Admirals Clear Roster are currently on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster include 4 defensemen and 2 goaltenders.

The 22 players listed by the Admirals are...

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 3/11

Victoria one win from moving on ... Barberio in the running for Top Defenseman ... Jung and Tokarski give their teams much-needed victories ... and of course, a Yogi Svejkovsky sighting.

NHL Game Night 3/11: Lightning at Senators

So, this team has some pride after all? Or, at the very least, some fear of Rick Tocchet?

TB-2
OTT-3 (OT)

Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the overtime loss. More good than bad. He made THE save all alone with an Ottawa shooter late in the third period to get the Lightning into the OT session, but he's still struggling with his rebound control, which cost the team the winning goal. I don't think anyone blamed him or McKenna for the debacle against McKenna, but it was definitely something worth monitoring going into this game. How would Ramo respond? And, he didn't respond badly.

First Period
02:37 TB Murphy (4), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
04:53 OTT Shannon (4), (Spezza, Alfredsson)(PP)

Second Period
09:25 OTT Kelly (9), (Alfredsson, Phillips)(SH)
09:38 TB Hall (5), (Artyukhin, Krajicek)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
02:38 OTT Fisher (11), (Phillips, Volchenkov)

Noah Welch had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 15:41. That's a far better number in terms of ice time for Welch to be getting.

Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:35.

Paul Szczechura had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:40. He made some dumb plays coming through the neutral zone, which is uncustomary for such a smart player.

Martins Karsums had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:06. The guy is just less than the sum of his parts right now.

Richard Petiot had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 18:13. He looks a step slow for the NHL level, but he's fairly servicable positionally and he looks like he competes. He may be a good spare part to keep around as a #8 type guy down in the minors.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night 3/11: Admirals at River Rats

Third period collapse.

NOR-3
ALB-5

Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the loss. He had a shutout through 40 minutes and ended up taking the "L."

First Period
NOR Segal, (22) (Zingoni), 15:41
NOR Keller, (15) (Jones, Konopka), 16:35 (PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
ALB Samson, (17) (Carson, Dodge), 6:11
ALB Clarke, (3) (Weston, Angelidis), 11:57
ALB Roy, (1) (Dodge, Samson), 16:11
ALB Dwyer, (18) (Tifu, Petruzalek), 16:57
NOR Konopka, (13) (Keller), 18:43
ALB Dwyer, (19) (Angelidis, Carson), 19:14 (EN)

The Admirals were led in shots by Blair Jones and Justin Keller who each had 7 a piece.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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