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Lightning owner gives team employees an early Christmas gift

Dec 15, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Jeff Vinik AP

During the lockout we’ve read enough stories about teams, and even the league, cutting back on hours and pay for their employees. One team not jumping on that bandwagon are the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune reports team owner Jeff Vinik is getting in the holiday spirit by giving team employees an extended paid holiday vacation. 150 team workers will get from December 20 through January 2 off and not have it count towards their regular vacation time.

Team spokesman Bill Wickett summed up the unexpected vacation time off nicely.

“It isn’t often in the sports and entertainment industry today that the pace of business allows for this type of break and we are happy to afford our people the opportunity to share personal time with their loved ones.”

On top of that, team employees are being given a $75 bonus intended to be spent on those in need during the holiday season.

The lockout hasn’t been good for heart-warming stories, but this one out of Tampa is good for a case of the warm-fuzzies.

  1. manchestermiracle - Dec 15, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Good for him for doing the right thing and not looking like just another heartless owner.

    • shotzongoal - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      The gentleman is a class act! Thank you Mr. Vinik!

    • tbbolts91 - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      Best owner right now. Renovated our arena and put in a new $5,000,000 50 x 28 foot scoreboard

  2. bleed4philly - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    That should match all the charity events the players have been performing at. Now I’m torn.

  3. ironmike778 - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Good story. Class guy.

  4. id4joey - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    It is a nice move on his part. The lockout has reduced expenses so I’m sure he can afford it.

    • jaybertx - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Tampa Bay has no money problems. This guy rolled into town and you want to know the first thing he did? He sank $40M of his own money into renovating the arena because he didn’t want to ask taxpayers who were already over-burdened with economic hardships to pay for it. The next season? He sank another $5M into a state of the art scoreboard. He wants to make the Lightning the class of the NHL in both on the ice and off. Every person that you come into contact with in that organization repeats his mantra – “We’re trying to turn the Lightning into a world class organization.”

      His net worth is over $500M. The man has pledged to donate $2M per year for the next five years to the charities of people who are chosen as Lightning “Community Heroes”. That’s $50k per home game. During the lockout, he has continued to do so on every game date from the original schedule.

      I don’t know much about any other owner. I have read or listened to every interview this man has done since coming here. He bought the Lightning as a way to occupy his time. Like us buying video games only he has the resources to buy a real team. He didn’t buy it primarily as an investment. I’m sure he doesn’t want to lose money but at the same time, it isn’t a primary means of income for him. He has other ways of making money. I can’t speak for anything else that he has done before coming to this area but we’re absolutely blessed to have him and I can’t wait to get back for Lightning hockey whenever it may return.

      • tbbolts91 - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:13 PM


  5. pemory - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Kind of makes me want to be a Lightning fan now….

  6. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Part of what has made this lockout even harder than normal to deal with is that I’ve been so excited about the Lightning since Vinik got here. Every move he’s made to this point has been classy and beneficial to both the players and fans.

    I’ve wanted to believe during this lockout that Vinik has been one of the more moderate owners and would probably be willing to compromise in order to make a deal, but it was hard to know for sure due to the muzzle placed on the owners. This definitely helps reassure me that he is likely doing everything he can to end this.

  7. jdrew506 - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Having had worked in arenas and stadiums in both Colorado and New York I have to say that this is an amazing move on their part. I can tell you personally that there is no way in hell that Jim Dolan at MSG would never even consider this idea even though it is probably the busiest and most profitable arena out there other then Yankee stadium

  8. tampabayirish - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Vinik is a great owner. Makes you wish he could buy out the Glazers and take over the Bucs too. Some guys are leaders and some guys are managers. Vinik is a leader.

  9. fortwaynekomets - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:57 PM


    actually how is it a bonus when they aren’t getting paid?

    either way, lame. great the guys can support their families and have Xmas, but THEY SHOULD BE MAKING MONEY PLAYING HOCKEY!!!

    • crosberries - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      Employees does not equal the same thing as professional athlete. This is the Tampa bay staff has nothing to do with the players

  10. northstars17 - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Fort… I agree.
    however, I did just gain more respect for this franchise. class act.. despite the ongoing emotional circus going on in the NHL right now.

    Merry Christmas!

  11. rca26 - Dec 16, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    While I was reading through the comments, I wondered which moron thumbed down all the comments calling this a classy move.

    Ended up being easier to figure out than I thought.

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