It's hard to believe sometimes that it's only been four years since the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
The years since then have been rough on the Lightning and their fans. First off, it was anything but fair for the faithful in Tampa to have to wait a whole extra year before they got to scream their lungs out as the championship banner was raised to the rafters after the lockout.
But it's been all downhill since then, with salary cap considerations forcing painful changes to the lineup as the team fell in the standings. The coup de grace came just a few weeks ago as the team was forced to deal former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards as the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
But help is on the way now that the Lightning have won the draft lottery and won the right to pick first in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. But while everyone in the hockey world has known that Steve Stamkos was the presumptive #1 pick for some time now, getting that message out to a non-traditional market like Tampa can be something of a challenge.
The solution? The Lightning have gone viral.
Average Tampa Bay residents don't know the 6-foot-1, 180-pound center scored 58 goals and had 47 assists in 61 games for Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League this season, is ranked as the top prospect by Central Scouting and is the most heralded prospect since Sidney Crosby in 2005.And once you get to seenstamkos.com, what you find is a low-tech affair -- done up to look like it's a fan who put it together. But the real attraction are the videos of Stamkos, including the one I embedded above. The kid is the real deal, and when it comes to hockey, the real deal always sells better than anything else.
But they might find a business card with "seenstamkos.com" tucked under their wiper blade, see a billboard, a sidewalk graphic or bumper sticker. They might have their lunch blitzed by a "flash mob" of Lightning marketing staffers, and just maybe they'll click over to the Web site dedicated to its next star.
"We're just trying to have a little fun in the offseason," said Mark Gullett, Lightning director of marketing and promotions. "This is not necessarily a new approach for us because we've done some stuff like this before. So we're just trying to be aggressive and take advantage of some opportunities out there.''
Thanks to Boltsmag for the link.