The somewhat improbable Tampa Bay Lightning run for a second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup ended last night around 11 p.m. when they lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1. The Lightning were pretty thoroughly outplayed if you go by shots-on-goal, but the last eight minutes or so were absolutely nail-biting.
There’s a reason why the National Hockey League is considered a distant fourth when it comes to our major sports leagues in the U.S., and that is that it’s not as popular as the NFL, NBA and MLB. Need more proof? The fact that the league informed the Lightning to cancel their official “watch party” scheduled last night in front of the Amalie Arena, because the team had violated some arcane rule about how many they could host during the playoffs.
The speculation was this had to do with concern about television ratings. Say what? No doubt the Tampa Bay area market probably had some of the highest ratings in the country, but the NHL is concerned that several thousand people wouldn’t be in front of their own TV’s, thus hurting future advertising? Talk about insecure.
When I lived in the Bay Area, people used to say in the ’90s that the only 20,000 people in the region who cared about the San Jose Sharks were the people who attended the games. You probably can’t say that here, where there’s no NBA franchise. But yesterday’s decision by the league shows how far it still has to go to feel like it’s on a level playing field with the other major sports leagues in America.
Meanwhile, what does Marco want? There’s been a flurry of speculation over the past 24 hours about Rubio re-entering the Senate race he dropped out of a year ago. He seemed to end that yesterday in a conference call. Yet …
“Look, if the circumstances were different,” he said about possibly getting into the contest, “but they’re not. This is the fact: Carlos (Lopez-Cantera) is in the race. He’s a good friend, he’s a good candidate, he’ll be a great senator. So my answer today is no different than it was 24-48-72 hours ago. All right?”
It is legitimate to question what Rubio will do in the immediate future that theoretically makes him viable for president in 2020 or beyond. Another memoir? He just wrote one a couple of years ago, so how many tales does he have to tell? Jeb Bush was pretty rusty after nearly a decade of being out of the arena in the past year. Maybe it’s a thing of honor for Rubio not to re-enter the race, but far crazier things have happened.
In other news …
In what can only be described as a radical move for a Florida local government, the Sarasota County Commission this week rejected offering incentives to a national roofing company to relocate their headquarters to the region. At least one group is praising them, however.
Alan Grayson is sponsoring a bill that would restore the voting rights for the nearly 6 million people around the country currently disenfranchised because of a previous felony conviction.
Kathy Castor is backing Ben Diamond over Eric Lynn in the House Democratic 68 race in Pinellas County.
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports a re-vote to put the Go Hillsborough measure on the November ballot, with one caveat: They support the tax lasting at least 20 years, not 15 years, which is the duration the BOCC is poised to vote on next month.