Thursday night we were again reminded what sets the Tampa Bay Lightning organization apart; it's fans. Despite playing in a market where hockey would seemingly be an afterthought, the franchise has continued to grow and gain support from the local community. On this particular night, the community returned some of that support.
During a day game against the Boston Bruins on Monday afternoon, Lightning fan's worst dreams become reality. In a moment that can only be described as heartbreaking, young NHL star Forward Steven Stamkos collided with a goalpost resulting in a broken tibia in his right leg. (Video below isn't too graphic but hard to watch nonetheless)
This type of loss could easily have fans questioning the future of the team. But instead, the Lightning fan-base chose a different question; "How is Stammer doing?". In a move that defines class, one of the local Tampa Bay sports radio stations, 620 WDAE , created a "Get Well Soon" card to be circulated around the Tampa Bay Times Forum during Thursday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks . What resulted is perhaps one of the coolest outpouring in fan support in recent sports memory. Fan after fan lined up to sign the giant card pictured below, demonstrating the type of rapport this community has with one of it's favorite players. (image courtesy @620wdae).
Having the opportunity to personally oversee the signing, I got the chance to read some of the messages left by the creative minds of Lightning fans. Let's just say it was a unique sampling of support, humor, and sarcasm, equaling an awesome demonstration of fan expression. Below are 10 of my favorite messages spotted throughout the card. Is yours one of them?
I see what this fan was trying to go for on this one. I'll assume alcohol consumption had more to do with this grammar than intelligence. The fan still gets an "A" from me for properly identifying the correct bone in question...
This signature is obviously lacking in sympathy. However based on the "Tis" and the emphasis on getting back to work, I'm pegging this fan as a possible elitist (or Monty Python fan). They just can't relate to the plight of the working man. Tis but a shame...
This message is just full of positive vibes. Although this fan may be onto something as the Lightning have gone 2-0 since Stammer's injury. If the team continues to fight through adversity this good luck may very well propel them into the Playoffs where a healthy Steven Stamkos is sure to be waiting.
This signature perhaps claimed the largest amount of real-estate on the card, but in my mind may have deserved it. For one, any subtle James Bond reference should be celebrated. But more importantly if this fan truly came all the way from Russia to lend their support to Stammer, then by all means use all the space you'd like, call it a cosmonaut.
Despite the obvious political incorrectness (calm down people), this signature encompasses the passion Stamkos evokes in both men and women alike. In related news, the only phone number left on the card was by a dude as well. Love obviously conquers all barriers.
A little redundant here but the point is clear. It will be Stammer-Time, in no time, once again. Hard to argue with that logic so I'll just nod my head in agreement. *nods head*
While I always appreciate a good NFL reference, this one is quite a graphic example. If you've never seen what this Joe Theismann shoutout refers to, go find the clip on youtube , but don't say I didn't warn you. Season ticket member "Meg A." rounds out her message by keeping a positive outlook on Stamkos playing in the upcoming Sochi Olympics, though the organization may not want to put that aggressive of timetable in place for his rehab. A surprise return for the Olympics would no doubt be an Adrian Peterson like recovery, just of the hockey variety, and would be a lift to the landscape of the entire sport.
In another great example of bro-love, "Kyle L." gets very descriptive in how he wishes he could help Stammer in his time of need. The world would no doubt be a better place with Kyle's pain reducing tears in it. Someone send Stamkos a bottle of "Kyle Tears" immediately...
As a believer in the power of positive thinking and good karma, this signature by "Cheryl P." is spot on in my opinion. No personal message, well wishes, or other references, just plain ol' miraculous healing power. Exactly what the beloved Steven Stamkos needs most right now. Touche Cheryl.
This signature is perhaps my favorite. Why? Because it reminds us that it's not just us humans that'll be missing Stammer during his recovery. If inanimate objects could communicate, I'm sure the entire Tampa Bay Times Forum would be expressing it's support of the best player that calls it home. I'd like to think that on this night "The Left Circle" was acting as the buildings official spokesperson. However I wouldn't expect the same support coming from the goal nets he abuses night in and night out...
So there you have it, the Top 10 signatures on the official "Get Well Soon" card for Steven Stamkos. I can only imagine the warmth he will feel when presented with this tangible example of the Tampa Bay community's appreciation for all he does on and off the ice. Special thanks again to 620 WDAE for this great idea, and to the Lightning organization for facilitating this awesome message of support from the fans.