Tampa Bay Lightning
Entering their 22nd season of existence, Florida's "good" team looks to finally win a Stanley cup that won't instantly cause a lockout. To do so, they'll rely on superstars like Steven Stamkos and... uhh... the Rangers ex-captain. Maybe Valtteri Filppula counts? Tampa finished ahead of the Wings last season, but also got swept out of the playoffs thanks to Ben Bishop's ill-timed injury. I feel very badly for them in this regards. I really do. Look at the tears streaming down my face. Just an awful, awful tragedy.
Whether it's the large contingent of Red Wings fans in the city or the familiar faces, the Bolts have always been a familiar and friendly face. How can you hate a team like that? Well, it's easy. They're not the Red Wings. fuck them.
What to Like About them
I don't know if you're aware of this, but the handsome man who runs that team is pretty well-liked for some things he did in Detroit. If that's not enough, their number one star in Steven Stamkos is a nice combination of both being really fun to watch and not one of the game's superstars who seems to have his alimentary canal terminate at the base of his skull.
What to Hate Most About Them
Ok, let's cut the nice shit. Radko Gudas is as dirty a player as there is in the NHL these days. While idiots gush about how hard he tries and about how he could be the next coming of Scott Stevens, this dookhammer takes it upon himself to chicken-wing his elbow up at every opportunity and bash opposing players in the face for the crime of scoring against his team minutes earlier. The guy's a fucking scourge.
How to Take the High Road
When it comes to flipping shit at an opposing team or its fanbase, it's important that you act with a bit of grace and dignity. We should strive to keep the topic to hockey itself. It's even better if we have an opportunity to grab a position from the moral high ground while we're at it.
It really is true that you have to like and respect Stamkos, and that this like and respect does carry over to the team for which he plays. That's going to make it all the more awkward in the future when Stamkos plays for the Maple Leafs. Also, while I do side with Bolts fans who feel that Martin St. Louis betrayed them in whining his way out of town over a stupid Olympic snub issue where he still got a Gold Medal from Steve Yzerman's Canadian Olympic team, I can't particularly say I blame can blame him TOO much, considering the last captain before the angry little imp was bought out (and the guy before him ran 'Tool Time' into the ground). The Lightning organization traditionally isn't really great with how they use their captaincy.
How to Deliver the Low-Blow
While I never ever EVER support taking cheap shots at your opponents' expense first. Sometimes they ask for it. You can pretend to cast your eyes down at them from your ivory tower or you can jump in the muck with them. Here's how to do the more-fun version.
It's nice that the hockey ops crew in Tampa is committed to keeping the snowbirds there entertained when all their favorite teams come to visit, but c'mon, hockey isn't working in Florida and the faster we can come to accept that, the faster we can close this embarrassing chapter on having just as many teams in the indifferent state of Florida as we have in the hockey-mad province of Ontario.
(note, you can defend this as vociferously as you feel like making Bolts fans angry. I don't agree with the statement, but boy howdy do Florida hockey fans have a complex about being looked down upon by northerners. Use it to your advantage; after all, they started it).