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Vinik: Lightning are in a ‘considerably stronger’ financial position

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 9: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning signs an autograph for a young fan prior to the game against the Florida Panthers at the Amalie Arena on October 9, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

With the most points in the Eastern Conference, a marketable superstar in Steven Stamkos, and a building that’s full, or at least near full, every game night, the Tampa Bay Lightning are sure sitting pretty these days.

In a related story, unlike a couple of other NHL teams in non-traditional hockey markets, the Lightning aren’t a financial sinkhole.

"(The team) is certainly in considerably stronger condition right now compared to when I bought it,” owner Jeff Vinik told Sportsnet recently.

“Financially, we’re on a much more solid base. The team had been losing a considerable amount of money. Now those losses are down to a much smaller amount.”

Though Vinik concedes the Lightning are “not yet profitable” and would be happy if the team merely broke even, the “major real estate development” he’s got planned in downtown Tampa (he keeps buying more land) would seem to provide him with a major money-making opportunity.

Oh, and that’s without mentioning the significant rise in franchise value he’s booked on paper since buying the team, plus a few acres of land, in 2010.

Certainly, with Vinik in control, things are far different, and far more optimistic, compared to the dark days when Oren Koules and Len Barrie were running the show.