July 11, 2009

Tampa Bay Preseason Schedule Released

I was out in the hinterlands of Indiana for work, but I'm finally back - and have quite a lot to catch up on, too, so we'll start with this:

Comcast Arena to host NHL's Coyotes, Lightning [Everett Herald]

Lightning Announce 2009 Preseason Schedule

The following is the schedule of games for the Lightning’s 2009 preseason:

Date Time Venue Opponent
September 16 8:30 p.m. American Airlines Center; Dallas, TX Dallas
September 18 7:30 p.m. St. Pete Times Forum; Tampa, FL Atlanta
September 21 9 p.m. Evraz Place; Regina, SK Ottawa
September 22 10:30 p.m. Comcast Arena at Everett; Everett, WA Phoenix
September 23 9 p.m. Budweiser Events Center; Loveland, CO Phoenix
September 24 8:30 p.m. MTS Centre; Winnipeg, MB Edmonton
September 27 5 p.m. Philips Arena; Atlanta, GA Atlanta

* All times EST and subject to change

This sucks. I so want to go see the game in Everett. I had been thinking about going to see the USA Hockey's Olympic Orientation Camp in Chicago at the end of August on my way to meet my dad. But now I want to go home and visit everyone just in time for that Lightning game in Everett. It's so unfair that I can't do both!

I've never been inside the arena, but I've been past the rink in Everett a few times. My friend Aparna works a block or two from the arena. She also used to live in Everett as well. So I'm very familiar with it. It looks really nice from the outside, at least, and it's pretty new - it was built in 2003 and seats 8,300 people for hockey.

Comcast Arena in Everett is the home of the Western Hockey League's Everett Silvertips. Their first head coach was Kevin Constantine, and their current head coach that they just hired is Craig Hartsburg. Both coaches were head coaches in the NHL previously. Everett, Washington, is about a half-hour drive north of Seattle without traffic, by the way.

The Lightning's goaltending prospect, Dustin Tokarski, ought be familiar with the building. He played for the Spokane Chiefs (WHL) on the other side of the state and visited it often in his three years with the Chiefs. I'm sure the games weren't very nice. The teams from the eastern side of the state weren't very welcome on the western side - and vice versa.

Yes, there is hockey in Washington State. There are four teams: the Everett Silvertips, the Seattle Thunderbirds (who now play in Kent), the Spokane Chiefs, and the Tri-City Americans located in Kennewick (and partly owned by former Lightning Olaf Kolzig). The Portland Winterhawks are in Oregon, are the southern-most team in the WHL, and have the best hockey crowd of anywhere that I've ever gone to watch hockey.

With the Lightning playing in four cities in four days, it makes me wonder how they're going to pull that off. I wonder if they'll split the team up and take two separate squads out with them. That's the only thing that makes any kind of sense to me, frankly. One group of guys and bouncing around like that really doesn't. But who said hockey or sports made sense, right?

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