Tampa Bay makes former Orlando Magic executive Steve Griggs their new COO

There’s something about the Tampa Bay Lightning and some variation on the name Steve/Steven.

First, there’s Maurice Richard co-winner and star of the present and future Steven Stamkos. Then there is a man who is just as important to the team’s success, new general manager Steve Yzerman. The fixation on successful Steve’s continued today as the Lightning announced that former Orlando Magic and Minnesota Wild executive Steve Griggs will be the team’s new chief operating officer.

Steve Griggs has been named chief operating officer of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, Chief Executive Officer Tod Leiweke announced today. Griggs joins the Lightning from the Orlando Magic, where he has served as executive vice president of sales and marketing since October, 2007. He will become the organization’s day-to-day operations leader, with an emphasis on revenue generation and brand management. Griggs will begin with the Lightning in November.

“Steve is one of the rising stars in the sports industry,” said Leiweke upon making the announcement. “His experience in the NHL, and most recently, with the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the new Amway Center, will serve us well as we work to transform the Lightning and the Times Forum under the leadership of owner Jeff Vinik.”

I understand that a lot of these front office moves are a bit obscure, so here is a little background on Griggs via the Lightning’s Web site.

In addition to overseeing all of the Magic’s sales and marketing functions, Griggs was also charged with developing and executing strategic sales and marketing efforts for the team’s new arena (Amway Center), which is set to open this fall. He established the Champions of the Community partnership for the founding partners of the building and created a digital signage platform which makes the arena one of the most technologically advanced in North America.

[snip]

Before joining the Magic, Griggs served the previous eight seasons as vice president of sales and marketing for the Minnesota Wild and its parent company, Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE). While with the Wild he was responsible for ticket sales and service, corporate sales and service, suite sales and service as well as retail operations. Under his leadership, the club posted 284 consecutive sellouts, totaling more than five million fans in the Wild’s first six seasons.

That’s a pretty impressive resume, although it seems like selling NHL hockey in Minnesota is like selling bottled water in a desert. One interesting (actually, dorky) note is that Griggs has plenty of experience working for clubs with grammatically irritating team names: the Wild, Magic and Lightning all defy sports traditions of plural team names.

It’s been an outstanding off-season for Tampa Bay. Casual fans probably won’t be conscious of the impact a guy like Griggs can have on an organization, but it seems like another solid move for a rapidly improving franchise.

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    WATCH LIVE: Second round begins with Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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    The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Wednesday, and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage.

    We start with a battle of the hottest goalies in the postseason so far as Jake Allen and the Blues host Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The duo of Game 1’s wraps up when Connor McDavid and the Oilers take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

    Time: 8 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

    Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks 

    Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream online)

    U.S. adds Bruins’ McAvoy, Blackhawks’ Trevor van Riemsdyk for Worlds

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    After a whirlwind of an NHL debut suiting up for the Boston Bruins in the playoffs, defenseman Charlie McAvoy is staying busy this summer.

    McAvoy and Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk are the latest additions to the U.S. roster for the upcoming World Championship.

    This comes a day after a tough day for USA Hockey, as both Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews were ruled out from the competition.

    Neither of these young defensemen can match that star power, but tournaments like these can be interesting showcases, particularly for McAvoy (who’s already shown great promise at just 19).

    The Bruins threw McAvoy right into the deep end against the Senators; only Zdeno Chara‘s average time on ice of 28:46 exceeded McAvoy’s 26:12.

    It’s understandable that Matthews and others may opt for rest, particularly after a season made more hectic thanks to the World Cup. In McAvoy’s case, the Worlds represent another chance for him to get his feet wet against NHL-level competition.

    MORE:McAvoy shines in debut.

    Agent says Kucherov blasted Bolts out of frustration from missing playoffs

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    Quite the situation developing in Tampa Bay.

    Earlier today, the translation of Nikita Kucherov‘s interview with Sovietsky Sport hit social media and caught a number of people by surprise. In it, Kucherov said some of his Lightning teammates “got their money and stopped working” this season, then complained about a lack of consistent linemates.

    And that’s not all. (See below).

    When reached for comment, Kucherov’s agent — Dan Milstein — didn’t deny the remarks were made. Instead, Milstein told the Tampa Bay Times they came out of frustration after Kucherov and the Bolts failed to make the playoffs.

    More:

    Here’s the full text of Kucherov’s remarks to Sovietsky Sport (translation courtesy the Times):

    “Some guys overstayed in team. They’ve got their money and stopped working. They knew there’s no competition for their positions and the organization is not going to take someone else. They played not really well this year. You can see it in their stats and way of play. When we played together and I made a pass, they even were not expecting this. That’s why this season was hard for me despite good stats.

    “We had great chemistry with [Vladislav] Namestnikov and [Steve] Stamkos at the start of the season. We understood each other really really well. And then Stamkos was injured, I was very upset. I think those nine games were my best in the NHL. After that coaches started shuffling lines. Partners were changing like in a kaleidoscope. It was very hard to get used to it, because guys didn’t play at Stamkos level. It’s hard to explain how I played with them. We had a lack of understanding of each other and there were some problems. I was suffering torments all season, because I couldn’t find perfect chemistry with other partners after Stamkos injury. We played with Jonathan Drouin once, and it was good. But coach didn’t put us together again for some reason.”

    It’s unclear who Kucherov is referring to in the opening graph. He had numerous linemates this year, as mentioned in the second graph. As for the money angle, the most recent Tampa Bay forwards to get lucrative paydays were Alex Killorn (seven years, $31.5 million) and Stamkos (eight years, $68 million), both of whom were signed last summer.

    Kucherov, as mentioned above, signed a three-year bridge deal at $4.766 million annually in October, then went out and provided the Bolts with terrific value. He emerged as a Hart Trophy candidate down the stretch, finishing the year with 40 goals (second only to Sidney Crosby) and 85 points (fifth-most in the NHL).

    But while Kucherov had a great individual effort, the same couldn’t be said for the Bolts. Injuries and inconsistency derailed what was supposed to be a promising campaign, given the club advanced to the Cup Final two years ago, and the Eastern Conference Final last season.

    If there is a bright side to any of this, it’s that Milstein told the Times Kucherov wants to remain in Tampa Bay long term.

    Related: Yzerman won’t blame injuries for Bolts’ playoff miss

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Wednesday, April 26

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    The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Wednesday, and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage.

    After disposing of the Calgary Flames in the first round, the Anaheim Ducks will look to take down another team from Alberta, while two red-hot goalies, Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne, go head-to-head.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

    Time: 8 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

    Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks 

    Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream online)