TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay Lightning players, coaches and staff participated in a “Strikes of Kindness Day” across the community on Tuesday.
The Bolts surprised people at nearly 40 sites over seven counties throughout the day, volunteering and visiting with first responders, students and hospital patients.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and defenseman Victor Hedman visited cancer patients at Tampa General Hospital.
Cooper spoke about what “Strikes of Kindness Day” means to him and his team.
“It’s an initiative led by Jeff and Penny Vinik and they never cease to amaze myself and everybody in this town for all the good they do in the community,” he said.
Cooper said the day was an “unreal break for them,” as the team is in the midst of planning for training camp.
“It just puts so many things in perspective for us…we’re in professional sports and kind of in a little bit of the entertainment business here and we’re so focused on what we do, oftentimes you kind of forget about what happens around you,” he said. “And to be where we are today, it kind of brings you a little bit back down to earth. It’s a humbling experience.”
Even with last season’s heartbreaking playoff sweep by the Columbus Blue Jacket in the first round, Cooper is confident all Lightning fans will stand by his players.
“The Tampa Bay lightning are a huge part of this community and I think we have this awesome marriage with our fans,” he said. “The players love them and our fans love our players and in the end, we’re always together. And that’s always tough about the way our season ended last year but I know the guys are really excited to be back and especially to jump start it by doing an event like this.”
Throughout the day, the team donated their $100,000 franchise bonus from winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season back into the community.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s first preseason game is Sept. 17 against the Carolina Hurricanes.