Why the Tampa Bay Lightning have a pirate-themed alternate jersey

The Gasparilla Festival is a major event in the Tampa Bay area. The legend of a pirate takeover inspired the Lightning's special jersey they have used for a few years.
New Jersey Devils v Tampa Bay Lightning
New Jersey Devils v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

There are no pirate-themed NHL teams, unlike their NFL and MLB counterparts. That isn’t stopping the Tampa Bay Lightning from getting in the high seas spirit with a new special edition jersey.

On Tuesday, the Lightning announced that special pirate-themed Lightning jerseys will go on sale on January 18th both in-store and online.

Pirates are sort of Tampa’s thing. Local legend has it pirates took over Tampa, led by the Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar.

That legend is most likely just a tall tale not based on any actual event but now every winter residents of Tampa re-enact the invasion with a boat parade, regular parade, and general merriment throughout the town. The “Gasparilla Pirate Festival” is basically Mardi Gras but with Pirates.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a new jersey that they are showing off

Every year the Tampa Bay Lightning join in the fun with a special edition ”Gasparilla” game. Last year, the Gasparilla jerseys were auctioned off to benefit the Lightning’s foundation.

This year it appears the jerseys will be available to anyone willing to dip into their treasure chest and buy one while supplies last.

The Lightning released an epic jersey reveal straight out of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, minus Jack Sparrow. The Lightning’s white away jersey makes up the base, but the logo on the crest is the biggest difference.

In place of the “lightning bolt” logo is a pirate skull with two crossed swords behind it, much like a typical skull and crossbones. The skull is black and the Lightning “lightning bolt” logo appears on the skull in white.

The shoulder decals are replaced with special ship wheel patches that say “Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Club” along with the lightning bolt in the middle of the wheel.

The jerseys are seemingly identical to the ones the Lightning wore last year. The exception was that the Lightning wore last year in solid black, as a “home” jersey, while the ones in the video are “away” white. Both versions have the ship's wheel shoulder patches.

The Lightning have been accepting artwork submissions for puck and jersey designs for special events, including Gasparilla. This doesn’t appear to be a new fan submission.

The Lightning aren’t the only area hockey team who’ve done special edition Gasparilla jerseys. Last year, the University of Tampa’s Ice Hockey team, which plays in the Collegiate Hockey Federation, came out with their own pirate jerseys.

They used their typical red and black colors to make a black jersey with a crest that had a red pirate ship and grey sails.

The “UT” (for the University of Tampa) logo appears on the sails in red while red boarding looking like the wooden railing you would see on a pirate ship goes across the jersey’s bottom.

The Lightning didn’t give any additional details on the jersey such as how many will be made and if season ticket holders get priority. The Gasparilla festival is one of the most unique things about the Tampa Bay region so it’s great to see the Lightning continue to embrace it.

This year’s Gasparilla festival will take place on January 27th. The Lightning have their “Gasparilla Game” scheduled for February 17th against the Florida Panthers.

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