Two and a quarter seasons ago, Tampa Bay unveiled their redesigned third jerseys. The new look alternates were like the previous iteration with the ‘BOLTS’ scrolled down the chest. The main difference was telling in the slogan; “back in black”. The color scheme was changed from a dark blue to a black. Harkening back to the days when the Lightning wore black as their home (and earlier their road) color rather than the blue they are known for currently. Fans were happy to have the black back as a major part of the color scheme, but some still were not fans of the ‘BOLTS’ design. Nevertheless, the Lightning were back in one of their original colors for certain games of the season.
With the new jerseys came new superstitions. Do the Lightning play better or worse while wearing these throwback-styled alternates? Of course, reality is there is no correlation between what jersey Tampa Bay is wearing and how they perform on the ice. Over the past few years however, I have noticed there is in fact a correlation with fans attitudes in relation to these jerseys. People that like the third jerseys tend to lean towards the side of the Lightning often playing well in them. While people who dislike the jerseys seem to feel that Tampa Bay stands no chance of winning while wearing them. So, let’s take a look at what is really going on while these black ‘BOLTS’ jerseys are being donned.
Tampa Bay opened their black third jersey wearing history with a whimper on November, 13th 2014. Scoring only 1 goal in a 2-1 loss to San Jose. For those who are extremely superstitious, this was immediately a bad omen. However, the next three times Tampa Bay wore their alternates, they won. Not only did they win, they won by a combined score of 11-4 over the Islanders, Wild, and Senators. In fact, Tampa Bay would win six times in their first eight games while wearing the new thirds.
The Bolts would go on to wear their black third jerseys another four times during the regular season. Alternating wins and losses as they went. Overall the Lightning would finish their first season back in black with a solid 8-4 record. Outscoring their opponents 32-25. Most would consider the first season of wearing these new threads to be rather successful. Can that imaginary trend of success carry forward to the sophomore season?
Tampa Bay would again lose their first game wearing black, against Boston, in their sophomore season of the jersey. The Lightning would lose four of their first five games of the season while wearing their moniker on their chest. Bringing their record while wearing them to a near mediocre 9-8. The ‘BOLTS’ jersey may have finally turned against Tampa Bay for the worse. However, the hockey gods had other plans as they allowed Tampa Bay to win the next four opportunities in a row, and six of the final seven games in which the Lightning went with the blackout. Tampa Bay finished the season with yet another winning record of 7-5. Their first two seasons of the new alternates had led to money in the bank with a record of 15-9 for the Bolts.
With two losses in two chances, Tampa Bay has started the current season the same way they started the prior. A lot of fans are bemoaning the black jerseys with thoughts of Tampa Bay always losing in them. As you can see, that is not the case. In fact, Tampa Bay may not have meant to have a double-sided phrase when they said they would be “back in black”, but it seems that when Tampa Bay wears their third jerseys, they are more likely to be on the positive side of the win loss balance sheet. Back in the black indeed.