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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    Talbot thinks McDavid is ready to be Oilers’ captain

    EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Connor McDavid #97 and goaltender Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate their victory against the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game is the final game the Oilers will play at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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    Connor McDavid was only healthy enough to play about half of his rookie season, yet he’s earning plenty of looks as the Edmonton Oilers’ next captain.

    It sounds like he has his No. 1 goalie’s vote, as Cam Talbot sang his praises when asked by Sportsnet earlier this week.

    I’ve been asked that a lot. I think he is. How ready is anyone, really, for the captaincy at any age? It’s a big jump up and a lot of responsibility, but if anyone’s able to do it, Connor can. He’s so grounded. He was raised really well, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he leads by example. He works hard on and off the ice. He’s the kind of guy guys are going to follow in the dressing room. I think if you put a leadership group around him and give him the C, he’ll grow into it and lead this team for sure.

    At 19, McDavid would jockey with Gabriel Landeskog to become the youngest captain in NHL history.

    It’s not that uncommon for teams to hand the “C” to relatively inexperienced guys when there’s an obvious fit, from Sidney Crosby to Jonathan Toews. McDavid’s already attracted attention to Edmonton – just ask Milan Lucic – so perhaps it would be silly to delay the inevitable?

    (Giving him that title may also imply that change is in the air …)

    Talbot didn’t just praise McDavid, mind you, as he also said that the Oilers are one defensive piece from really competing.

    ***

    In other positive Oilers news, head coach Todd McLellan seems very upbeat about Zack Kassian, according to the Edmonton Journal.

    “I’m very impressed with Zack’s approach in life, in general,” McLellan said. “We’ve talked about the Oilers and hockey but from where Zack was, bottoming out (as a Montreal Canadiens’ winger) with his lifestyle (going into the NHL’s Substance Abuse program) and to see where he his with his commitment to conditioning and becoming healthy. That can rub off on other players.”

    If all goes well, both McDavid and Kassian could be positive influences in the Oilers’ locker room, even if their roles would likely be wildly different.

    Related: 

    McDavid would be honored to serve as Oilers captain

    McLellan says Edmonton will have a captain by opening night

    Maple Leafs sign Marincin to two-year deal to avoid arbitration

    BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 21:  Martin Marincin #52 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on October 21, 2015 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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    A scheduled arbitration hearing between the Toronto Maple Leafs and defenseman Martin Marincin won’t be necessary.

    The two sides have settled on a two-year deal with an average annual value of $1.25 million, the Maple Leafs announced Friday. The arbitration hearing was scheduled for Aug. 2. This new deal represents the final restricted free agent signing left for Toronto, as per General Fanager, which also shows the Maple Leafs have about $55,916 in remaining projected cap space.

    Marincin, 24, had one goal and seven points in 65 games for the Maple Leafs last season.

    His new deal represents a raise from the $700,000 he made this past season on a one-year deal.

    The Maple Leafs had also previously avoided arbitration with Frank Corrado and Peter Holland.

    Toronto seemed pleased with the progress Marincin made this past season, in which he posted strong possession numbers in more than 900 minutes of ice time at five-on-five.

    “He’s a thin guy so he’s got to work extra hard on his body,” Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock told the Globe and Mail during the season.

    “He needs an NHL summer. One where you actually commit to being in the league [by putting] some meat on your bones. Then he’s in position to be a real good player in the league. But he’s really come. It’s good for him.”

    NHL 17 goes deep on customization, right down to Bautista’s bat flip

    TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 14:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays flips his bat up in the air after he hits a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers in game five of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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    More and more, it seems like EA Sports’ upcoming NHL 17 is about bolstering all the substance with some style.

    While the biggest hopes for on-digital-ice changes seem to hinge on much-needed tweaks to goaltending, plenty of focus revolves around what your players will be wearing and where they’ll be playing.

    Polygon provides a great breakdown for some of the tweaks:

    Even more exciting is EASHL’s brand-new arena editor, which is a massive step up from last year, when the only things you could add to your team’s rink were championship banners if you won them. Your club will now make its way upward through five different arenas — a small community rink, a larger community rink, a Canadian Hockey League-size venue, an American Hockey League-size arena and an NHL arena — and you’ll be able to customize the last four venues in that progression.

    Maybe most interestingly, you can relocate teams to one of 20 other hockey-friendly locales, whether it means bringing the NHL to Las Vegas a year early, rebooting the Hartford Whalers or a number of other possibilities.

    (Does this mean the dream of “The KC Masterpiece” could come true?)

    The increase in goal celebrations has been touched upon, yet seeing the fruits of such labor is another thing entirely. Hockey Twitter was delighted to learn that Jose Bautista’s memorable “bat flip” is included in the mix:

    Nice nod to Toronto Maple Leafs fans, who can use such an animation after forcing the Tampa Bay Lightning to trade Steven Stamkos “home.”

    Need another trailer for the game? Why not:

    Pacioretty on losing ‘friend’ in Subban trade

    DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 02:  (R-L) P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his goal with Max Pacioretty #67 in the second period against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on January 2, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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    P.K. Subban‘s relationship with now-former Montreal Canadiens teammates has been dissected for some time, but captain Max Pacioretty insists that he lost a “friend” in the trade.

    At least, that’s what he’s saying publicly, as Sportsnet reports.

    “I’d been with him for nine years, so it’s going to be very strange to come into the locker room and not see P.K. there, joking around with him all the time,” Pacioretty said.

    He added that, in the Subban-for-Shea Weber trade, the Canadiens “lost a friend and hopefully gained another.”

    Again, there’s been plenty of speculation that Pacioretty and other Habs viewed Subban as anything but a pal. Jacques Demers ranked among the many who believed that Montreal suffered from a “divided room,” with some believing that it came down to Subban vs. Pacioretty.

    Pacioretty dismissed the claims back then:

    While Subban responded in a way we’ve come to expect, wondering if he’d have to “make out” with Pacioretty to prove doubters wrong.

    That Pacioretty passage might just sum it up the best: you can be friends with someone while (gasp) also occasionally being annoyed by their antics. Really, have you enjoyed a lengthy relationship – business or personal – that never had those moments of minor friction?

    Chances are, such chemistry issues were really just a distraction from the more important issues, such as Montreal depending far too much upon Carey Price.

    The good news for “Patches” is that he won’t field nearly as many questions about Subban now that P.K.’s plying his trade in Nashville.

    The not-so-good news is that he’ll be an obvious target for blame if Montreal’s fate doesn’t change with Weber replacing Subban.

    We’ll find out soon enough if Pacioretty has enough help from his friends.

    Related

    Owner stands behind Marc Bergevin’s moves, Subban trade included

    Michel Therrien on his relationship with Subban (when they were still employed by the Habs)

    Subban: This is a business