TAMPA - TAMPA - When he bought the Tampa Bay Lightning 14 months ago, Jeff Vinik's goal was to build a team that would win long-term. He had no idea the short term would be so successful.
Though he made it clear he isn't shocked by the Lightning's run to the Eastern Conference finals, Vinik said in the wake of his team's second-round playoff sweep of the Capitals on Wednesday that he didn't see this kind of success coming this early for the team.
"No, I had no idea," Vinik said when asked if he thought the Lightning would win this big this soon after he took ownership of the franchise. "But you know what, these guys have fought hard all year, and I think (general manager) Steve Yzerman and (coach) Guy (Boucher) have done a great job here.
"So nothing shocks me about these guys. I mean, they're doing a great job here and it's fun and exciting for everyone and fortunately we hired good people and this is what happens when you do that."
The Lightning will be playing in the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in their existence, and Vinik said it's not just him and the coaches and players who have reason to feel proud of the achievement.
"It's not my team, it's our team - it's Tampa Bay's team," he said. "I knew when I bought the team that this was a great sports town here and they had great hockey fans and a history of success and being supportive and it's just great that a year later we're all getting to see some of that."
Tampa Bay Lightning