Good morning, Tampa - LA Kings Insider

Good morning, Tampa, and good morning, Insiders.

Discussed yesterday: is it shocking that after 17 seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays still play at The Thunderdome Tropicana Field? After a cursory look at reports over the several months, it appears as though there is a difficult-to-navigate “Use Agreement” that makes leaving St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field before 2027 costly, and that potential sites in Tampa have been met with opposition. Did any Insiders ever catch an NHL game at The Thunderdome? Expo Hall? Oh for the year when the Kings represented the Smythe Division in the Stanley Cup Final, and the Norris Division consisted of the Blackhawks, Blues, North Stars, Maple Leafs, Red Wings – and Lightning. The following season, 1993-94, saw the introduction of directional divisional names and Tampa Bay’s permanent relocation to the Eastern Conference.

Here’s a shout out to the group of 14 Kings fans who were on our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa yesterday. It’s collected mostly on anecdotal evidence gained from looking around arenas and seeing the groups of fans huddled around the tunnel to the ice while I’m doing my pre-game FOX Sports West bench hit, but I’m seeing so much more silver, white and black around arenas than three years ago, let alone when I attended road games in college. It’s more than just local fans supporting the Kings; I’m seeing regulars whom I recognize in Los Angeles and various cities, traveling around to catch the team in away games. From what Jim Fox was telling me yesterday, the current group on the road with the club is led by a (former?) member of the booster club who organizes trips to NHL cities each season, and this year they settled on this current away leg. Forgive me for not catching up at the airport – I was trying to get Waking up with the Kings written during our travel – but if anyone from this group is reading this right now, shoot me over a photo from any of the recent away games, and I’ll post it Monday on Good Morning, Columbus. My email, if anyone ever needs it, is jonnyrosen-at-gmail.

Because of the 5:00 p.m. start time today, there’s no morning skate, and we’ll learn about the Kings’ starter in net when they take the ice for warm-ups. Some Bolts notes:

Steven Stamkos turned 25 today. I’ll write about it shortly, but the Lightning have an impressive amassment of young forwards. Good morning, Insiders – there’s lots more to come on a Saturday.