The Lightning Capital
The Tampa Bay Lightning got their start in the early 1990s when the franchise’s first owner, Phil Esposito, announced the future team’s name – several months before the NHL officially awarded the franchise to Tampa. The Lightning name is unique, as they were the first in NHL history to have a team name that didn’t end in “s.” A few months later, the team unveiled its first logo and team colors: black and blue.
The first player selected by the Lightning in the 1992 expansion draft was Wendell Young, who wore jersey No. 1. The team made the playoffs for the first time during the 1995-96 season but didn’t reach the postseason again until 2002-03. They won it all the following year, finishing 4 to 3 in the Stanley Cup Final against the Calgary Flames. Since then, they’ve been to the playoffs several times and have reached the finals once again in 2014-15 (though this effort resulted in a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks).
Even though they’ve only been in the NHL for 25 seasons, Lightning jerseys have undergone some changes. Let’s take a look to see how the Lightning’s look has changed over time.
Notable Jersey Changes
1992-93: Tampa’s first jerseys are white (home, pictured) and black (away) with various striping around the waist and sleeves. Also, they feature stripes known as “victory stripes” in the underarm gussets. In the upper-right chest area appears a (league-wide) Stanley Cup Centennial patch, and the main logo consists of a bold lightning bolt in white, highlighted in black, surrounded by a gray circle on both home and away jerseys. Above the bolt appears “Tampa Bay,” and below, “Lightning.”
1993-94: This jersey is similar to the team’s first, but the player name and number on the back are now italicized.
1994-95: Another font change is evident for the Lightning this season, as the player name and number appear differently – and the player name now appears in an arch rather than straight across the back.
1997-98: We don’t see major uniform changes at this time, but the team does add a patch to the upper-right chest – a green four-leaf clover with the number “12” inside. The patch honors teammate John Cullen, who has to miss the season while treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
2000-01: There are a few changes to note during the Lightning’s 10th anniversary season, including the addition of a 10th anniversary patch. Fan complaints that the jersey numbers are too hard to decipher force another change as well: the player name and number are changed to a more legible block font. Additionally, the blue on the jerseys is now just a shade darker.
2003-04: The Lightning change their home jerseys to black and away jerseys to white. They clinch their first Stanley Cup, and those underarm victory stripes come into view as players hoist the Cup aloft. They also add the Stanley Cup patch.
2004-2007: No significant jersey changes occur over these seasons.
2007-08: For the first time, the team adds player numbers to the front of their jerseys. They also completely redesign the whole look of their jerseys. They are more solid in appearance – lacking the stripes along the bottom – and look more solidly colored than prior jerseys. Both the home and away versions have blue on the underside of each sleeve. The word “Lightning” disappears from the logo.
2008-09: In 2008, the team adds a blue alternate jersey (pictured). The front reads “Bolts,” and the hem in the back reads “Tampa Bay.”
2010-11: Completely redesigned uniforms are revealed midway through the season and will debut the following season.
2011-12: Brand-new jerseys make their debut this season. The home jerseys are blue with stripes along the waist and sleeves, and the logo no longer reads “Tampa Bay.” The away jerseys still read “Tampa Bay” above the logo, but are now mostly white with blue stripes (pictured). Laces appear at the neckline, the number disappears from the front, and the team retains the alternate Bolts jersey.
2012-13: This is the Lightning’s 20th anniversary season, and they wear a patch to commemorate the milestone. The shoulder logos are updated to the current logo.
2014-15: The big change this year is the alternate jersey – instead of blue, it’s now black.
2017-18: The design remains mostly the same. The neckline laces disappear and “Tampa Bay” is also absent from the away jersey. Tampa wears a 25th anniversary patch on home jerseys and an All-Star patch on road jerseys.
Let’s Go Bolts!
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