Late in February, the Tampa Bay Lightning released their new uniform design. Much like how the new ownership for the then-Devil Rays chose to re-brand the franchise shortly after taking over, the Lightning's new owner Jeff Vinik is using this as an opportunity to both reinvigorate the franchise while paying respects to the team's history. According to chief executive officer Tod Leiweke:â†µ
"While we are committed to pushing our franchise to new heights, we will forever honor the 2004 Stanley Cup and the other traditions and great efforts of those before us. The addition of the lightning bolt and the incorporation of black trim is an opportunity to send a message to Phil Esposito and the other pioneers that Lightning history will always be a part of who we are."â†µ
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Whether or not this is necessarily true (black seems to be the minutest of additions to the jersey), it's a nice effort and it seems like a sign that the new ownership is committed to the Lightning franchise. Not only are they re-working the uniforms, but they're also giving away free uniforms and steep discounts on concessions and merchandise to their season ticket holders.â†µ
Shortly before their release, John Fontana at Raw Charge decided to see what Lightning fans thought of the proposed new redesign. At the time, a plurality of people disliked the new design (47%) while a much smaller contingent liked it (34%), but one of the strongest objections was that the team had removed the lightning bolt from its pants (which was not the case in the final released design). Fans were also strongly opposed to the fact that the team removed black and silver as its primary colors, but otherwise liked the new secondary logo and the laces in the uniform.â†µ
Overall, I'm a fan. I think it's our inherent reaction as fans to be opposed to change, especially when it comes to a team's visual identity, but it's one of those things that you forget about quickly. It's a snazzy design and as long as the Lightning keep winning, who cares?