No. 30: Tampa Bay Lightning

2013 Ultimate Standings

Updated: September 23, 2013, 12:33 PM ET
By Hallie Grossman | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 7
Title track: 36
Ownership: 25
Coaching: 88
Players: 52
Fan relations: 23
Affordability: 10
Stadium Experience 29
Bang for the Buck 54

Call it a case of "What have you done for me lately?" Just two years after nabbing runner-up for top overall franchise, the Lightning took a precipitous drop, landing in this year's 30th spot. Back in 2011, Tampa fans enjoyed a deep playoff run (one win short of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance), but the team has yet to return to postseason play. That's hard to fathom, considering the league's top two point-producers last season -- Martin St. Louis (60) and Steven Stamkos (57) -- donned the blue and white. So it's no real mystery why the Bolts dropped in seven of the eight Ultimate Standings categories. (The only area of improvement was in affordability, climbing to No. 10 and second only to the Coyotes in the NHL.)

Despite some serious holes on defense (3.06 goals allowed per game, 26th in the league) and in-season coaching woes (Guy Boucher was fired in March), the beloved owner (ranked 25th) has likely stored up enough good will to tide fans over, at least for a short while. After taking the reins in 2010, Jeff Vinik stabilized what was then a franchise in a free fall and won over the home crowd, thanks to his extensive community outreach: $50,000 a game pledged to local community heroes and ambitious plans for developing 20 acres of downtown property near the Tampa Bay Times Forum. And while Lightning fans have shown up in droves (the team played to 99.2 percent capacity in 2013), the team will need to turn things around on the ice to keep them in the seats.

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