This ESPN story basically asks, “why all the stupid hype in Tampa?” To quote:
So why do the people around [the Lightning] keep acting like it’s 1996?
Read it, you’ll see. I’ll tell you why.
Firstly, because the Tampa Bay Lightning have been disparaged and dismissed as “a shitty team”, or “worst in the league” for a long-ass time. Even if it wasn’t statistically true, it was the underlying tenor of the NHL hive mind. The woes endured by Bolts fans are only now being repaid by an organization that’s had so many woes of their own over the course of the last twelve years. Last year, the Bolts almost got some respect from “others”, but their awesome year grew insignificant as the Devils went on to win the Cup. This year, however, there is still little respect for the Lightning. This year, however, it’s biting people (opponents and fans alike) squarely in the ass. Sports fans hold grudges. So to everyone that wrote off the Bolts simply because they were named the “Tampa Bay Lightning”, we can finally say, “fuck y’all”.
Secondly, because it’s the Flyers. My brother and I (and about 27,5000 others) were at game 6 in St. Pete back in 1996 when the Flyers knocked the Bolts out of the first round. It’s the Flyers. If it were the Devils, shit would be just as stupid, circus-like, etc. If Rob Parent (the author of the article) is going to bitch about fervor, then he should thank the hockey gods that it’s not the fuckin’ Panthers in the Eastern Conference finals against the Bolts.
Thirdly, because Florida is a fairly transient state. Tampa is a particularly transient “metro” area. While that can be said about many of the “major” hockey towns, the Tampa bay area is a vacation destination throughout the year. If you’re on vacation from out-of-town, it’s going to take a lot of bullshit hype to get you to buy a ticket to a Bolts game. There’s so much else to do, especially if you’re not a hockey fan in general. If you’re from a different town with a hockey team, chances are that you import your loyalties, too. So unless the Sabres are playing during your stay, you’ll be less likely to buy a hockey ticket, unless there’s a lot of bullshit hype.
Lastly, people in Tampa aren’t as snobby (for lack of a better word) than others living in hockey towns, especially in major metropolitan areas along the East coast. Fuck, man, it’s Florida! We’re all laid back, but more importantly, we love stupid bullshit hype.