The Tampa Bay Lightning is an ice hockey team located in Tampa, Florida. It fights in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the NHL. Speaking, the franchise owes its foundation to the legendary Canadian hockey player Phil Esposito. In 1989, the NHL announced its plans to expand to 28 teams by 2000, so Esposito instantly decided that his place of residence, Tampa’s sunny city in Florida, would be perfect for a new hockey franchise. First, Esposito persuaded the NHL authorities to hold an exhibition game in Tampa, between the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, edged Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. The game took place in September 1990 at the Florida Suncoast Dome (a large indoor baseball arena). Though the result wasn’t the greatest NHL game ever played, a record crowd of more than 25,000 was happy to witness it. A month later, the NHL sent inspectors to Tampa, who issued a verdict that the NHL would bring the ice hockey franchise to this region. Five weeks later, the town officially received the right to join the League for the 1992-1993 season.
However, after being awarded the franchise, Phil Esposito faced certain problems, including the lack of money to pay the entry fee. The initial sponsors quickly changed their minds, and Esposito rushed to find new benefactors. He was lucky to come across them in Japan. Kokusai Green’s owners invited Phil Esposito to their headquarters in Tokyo to discuss the deal’s details. As it is said, further business meetings took place in Ginza (Tokyo’s most famous shopping and entertainment district), usually in hotel bars and almost always at night. Besides, there were rumors that the company planned to use the team as a part of the money-laundering scheme. Then, the Japanese multimillionaire Takashi Okubo invested in Tampa and purchased the team’s rights from Phil Esposito, who served as the team’s general manager until 1998.
By the way, Phil Esposito created the name for the NHL rookie. The new franchise was named the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay is a large harbor with Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater located around it. As for lightning, they say that light show rampages through the sky in the bay area more frequently than anywhere else in the world. As Esposito claimed, the team’s name crossed his mind during a severe storm, when hundreds of nonstop lightning flashes lit up the sky. He depicted the silver lightning in the primary Tampa Bay Lightning’s logo.
From 1992-2012, the lightning was qualified for the playoff only once. The franchise owners invested nearly $ 125 million in the club in the early years, but it didn’t generate a revenue dime. The team was on the brink of bankruptcy. No wonder, since the owners didn’t pay taxes and reduced the operating costs to a minimum. Constant losses led to further erosion of spectator interest, which was fading with every coming year, and at last, reached a critical point. The team management tried to do their best to bring fans back to the stands. The Tampa bosses even signed an exclusive contract with Canadian goaltender Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play in the NHL. Things were so bad that Phil Esposito’s brother – Tony was the only club scout for a while.
Before the 1998-99 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning experienced significant changes. The team was sold to American millionaire Art Williams. The changes also occurred in the club’s management: Esposito brothers were fired; team veterans were replaced in favor of a young core of players.
In 2009, the team was sold to Bostonian banker Jeffrey Vinik.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s official mascot is Thunderbug, the anthropomorphic black-and-yellow lightning bug.
Meaning and History
One of the youngest NHL franchises, established in 1993. Four logos with a circle and a lightning bolt are all the heritage of the team’s visual identity that it has accumulated to date. The main contributors are Phil Esposito (he suggested lightning and lettering), Lowell, and Paul (they removed the Florida map from the background and replaced it with a clean circle). The modern version was adopted in 2011. Since then, she has not left the attributes of hockey players, inspiring new achievements.
1992 – 2001
Phil Esposito himself was the designer of the original logo. It featured a white lightning bolt inside a gray circle. Due to the dark shadows, the lightning had a three-dimensional effect. The circle was trimmed with a white and blue outline. Besides, it included “Tampa Bay” and “Lightning” wordmarks at the top and the bottom, respectively. Despite different fonts, both wordmarks were blue-scripted letters with a thin black outline.
2001 – 2007
There weren’t any major changes to the 2002 crest design. The new Tampa Bay Lightning logo brought about darker blue and grey shades without changing the shape of the elements. In particular, a bright blue shade was replaced by a dark one, both in the name and in the outline.
2007 – 2011
On August 25, 2007, the designers introduced the third logo for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Though resembling the previous logos, it had a more refined, modern, and professional look. The “Lightning” wordmark disappeared, due to which the image became clearer. The blue-scripted “Tampa Bay” wordmark now had a bolder white outline.
2011 – present
The 2012 logo update was initiated by Jeff Vinik, the new owner of the franchise. He expected to turn his club into a world-class hockey team, so there wasn’t just a need for a plain hockey logo but a successful brand identity. It depicts a flash of zigzag lightning striking from top to bottom, going beyond the conventional circle’s limits. It consists of three elements: two sharp rectangles and one elongated triangle, which are arranged so that zigzags are obtained.
There are two semicircles around the zipper, forming an open ring (it is not connected at the top and bottom). Moreover, the circle lines have different thicknesses: the right fragment is wide; the left one is narrow. This design technique adds dynamism to the logo as it demonstrates movement.
Font and color of the Emblem
The first three signs of the club’s visual identity differ from the modern version: they contain a text part. On the early logos, the inscription is double, as it includes the full name of the franchise – “Tampa Bay” (top) and “Lightning” (bottom). In the third version, the developers removed part of the text: they left only the settlement’s name – an indication of the location.
Also, the previous emblems differ from the current one by the shadow’s presence on the right side of the lightning. They repeat its zigzags, making the image three-dimensional, which is no longer in the current version. The transition to 2D format is associated with the need to adapt the logo for printing on different media and convenient placement on uniforms.
To designate the team’s name, the designers used three types of typefaces: italic, reminiscent of handwritten text, and two straight, close to print. Therefore, the inscriptions overlap with several types of fonts: Komu A, Industry Black Italic, Duke, Nomad. In early logos, the letters’ outlines are outlined with thin lines, in the third – with a wide stripe.
The emblem’s color scheme is individual and consists of a specially designed blue hue called Tampa Bay Blue. It also includes white for background contrast. Black, which is also the club’s official color, was dropped from the logo in 2011.