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NHL logo rankings No. 26: Tampa Bay Lightning

Our logo rankings continue with the Tampa Bay Lightning at No. 26. Think you can design a better look for the Bolts? Get creative and send your new look to and we may run it at the conclusion of our rankings.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been around since 1992-93 and have had different variations on their logo, but their current look is the only one that doesn't have lettering on it. I've got to be honest - when seven THN staffers sat around debating and ranking these logos, I was voting for the Lightning to go a little higher than 26. Usually - though not always - I'm not a fan of logos that have the team's name in it, so I have to give Tampa Bay credit for dropping the text from their look. The blue lightning bolt and circle may look plain to some, but to my eyes, it's the most refined look Tampa Bay has had in its 20-plus year history. But when it came to ranking all 30 NHL logos, Tampa Bay didn't get much love from most of the seven staffers. It's plain and it doesn't grab the attention of everyone. So here we are, with the Lightning ranked at 26, just
ahead of the Vancouver Canucks. Think you can design a logo for Tampa Bay that would make our judges reconsider such a low ranking? Get your creative juices flowing and, using whichever color scheme you want, come up with a new look for Tampa Bay and submit it to At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we'll share our favorite reader re-designs. And if you enjoyed coming up with a new look for Tampa Bay, try your hand at the
other NHL logos too.
HISTORY OF LIGHTNING LOGO The original Tampa Bay Lightning look was a design put together by Phil Esposito and colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul.
From the Lightning's website:
Together with colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul, Esposito began sketching out designs for what would eventually become the Tampa Bay Lightning logo.
“I literally would go home at night, and sit in my office and draw pictures of lightning bolts on notebook paper,” Esposito said. “And remember, I am no artist. But all of us would come in the next day and sit down with each other to compare what we had come up with. And let me tell you, between the three of us, there was a lot to look at.”
…Initially, Esposito had just settled on a silver lightning bolt with the word “Tampa” across the top. Lowell and Paul then altered it slightly to include the circular backdrop on which it is emblazoned, which still is incorporated in today’s logo, unveiled in the spring of 2011.
Perhaps the most key contribution, however, came from long-time Tampa sports journalist and pioneer Tom McEwen, who advised Esposito to include the word “Bay” as well, signifying a union between Tampa and its neighboring communities.
“Tom told me it had to say “Tampa Bay” no matter what, and that, honestly, was the best decision I could have made at the time,” Esposito said. “There was such a great divide between Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg that I could not believe. So I thought, yes, in order to be successful, we have to unite.”

Subtle variations were made to this look, such as the darkening of the colors, but the next really noticeable change to the Lightning logo came in 2007-08 when the NHL was debuting Reebok Edge jerseys and a number of teams went through redesigns. The word "Lightning" was dropped and the blocky bolt became more bold and dagger-like. The font used for "Tampa Bay" was less stylized and easier to read, giving the whole look a more modern feel. But it didn't last very long.
The current Lightning logo is a more traditional, simple look that removed the team's name and city altogether on the home blues. The away whites still have "Tampa Bay" emblazoned across the top. The circle around the bolt that has always been there remains,while the bolt itself is a crisp, clean look that is easy on the eyes. We have them ranked No. 26, but to me, this is the best Lightning logo yet. My dissenting opinion to the seven-man voting panel is below.

Dissenting opinion: "What else do you want from the Lightning? It's not cartoony. It's not overrun with text that describes the obvious (team and city name). It's clean and traditional. The shaved look exemplifies a franchise that has grown up from the expansion team they were 20-plus years ago. The team deserves kudos for refining their look."
- Rory Boylen

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Think you can do a better job creating a logo for the Lightning? Use whatever color scheme you want, whether it's been used by Tampa Bay or not, and send your new look to After we finish rolling out all 30 NHL logo rankings, we'll share the best reader redesigns on Which Tampa Bay Lightning logo do you like most?

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