Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Like stories of UFO sightings and Wilt Chamberlain’s love life, it’s hard to know where the truth ends and fiction begins with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If you believe half the things you hear around the hockey world, you’d be convinced the ownership group led by Oren Koules and Len Barrie is holding its operation together with food stamps and returns from empties.
You’d also believe the franchise will revert to original owner William Davidson at the end of this season, that the house of cards Koules and Barrie have constructed will collapse and the NHL will be left with yet another public embarrassment.
That, at least, is the big story. But the other intrigues surrounding the Bolts are just as entertaining. There are the ongoing rumours concerning franchise icon Vinny Lecavalier. There are stories about financing and payrolls and papered houses and Barrie’s personal finances and Lightning employees being charged for parking—all of which creates the impression that this isn’t an NHL franchise so much as it’s the reincarnation of a WHA franchise.
From Ira Kaufman at The Tampa Tribune:
The Tampa Bay Lightning are slashing season-ticket prices by an average of 10 percent for next season, with almost 4,000 seats available at the St. Pete Times Forum for only $239.
Almost 1,300 upper-level seats have been reclassified to be included in the $239 season-ticket package that averages out to $5.69, plus tax, per game. Nearly 20 percent of the arena’s seats will feature that $239 designation and half-season packages in the same area will cost $149.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Vinny isn’t available and anyone who suggests he might have been available earlier in the year– and the suggestees included Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey – had better check their sources.
It doesn’t mean Lawton won’t try to be active in shedding payroll. It just means the Lecavalier trial balloon they floated just before the All-Star break was so badly received the Lightning figured it out in a hurry – it was a road they couldn’t go down and retain any credibility in their market. It’s one thing to show Brad Richards and Dan Boyle the door; it’s quite another to ditch the face of the franchise, even if the face of the franchise is set to earn $85-million over the next 11 years on a heavily front-loaded contract – the first four years are all worth $10-million in cold hard disposable cash in Lecavalier’s pocket,a tidy sum considering how iffy the team’s financial picture is at the moment.
from Damian Cristodero of Lightning Strikes,
Under Tocchet, the Lightning worked with Stamkos, put him on a weight program, put him in a classroom video situation with assistant Wes Walz. It has helped big-time as Stamkos is playing his best hockey of the season. The there is this: Stamkos, with 10 goals, needs three to tie Vinny Lecavalier’s rookie output in 1998-99, and with 25 points, needs three to tie Lecavalier as well.
from Erik Erlendsson and Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
With Tampa Bay spending the next week in Canada, trade rumors are sure to run rampant as the March 4 trade deadline approaches.
But Vinny Lecavalier’s name won’t be at the forefront.
In his boldest statement in his short tenure as Lightning general manager, Brian Lawton may very well have put an end to any lingering rumors surrounding Lecavalier by stating the Tampa Bay captain won’t be going anywhere, as far as he’s concerned.
“We’re not going to trade Vinny Lecavalier,’’ Lawton said Monday. “I’m going to say, ‘never,’ so I don’t have to deal with it.’‘
from Lightning Strikes,
Tocchet said it is getting closer to a time the team must decide whether to shut down goaltender Mike Smith (concussion). Tocchet said the discussion likely will happen sooner rather than later. At issue: is it worth the risk to bring Smith back considering Tampa Bay is out of the playoff race, or is it better to let him fully heal and be ready for next season? Also a consideration: it might be good for Smith to get a few games under his belt heading into the offseason to get things moving in the right direction. It is a difficult equation.
more including Recchi not happy with being a healthy scratch tonight…
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Lightning leads the NHL in roster moves, with 43 different players having suited up for game action this season. Injuries have played a role in the inflation of that number, but it’s not the only factor.
There was also the furor over whether the team was shopping Lecavalier. There was a lot of discussion of semantics, but the bottom line is that there was some discussion about Lecavalier’s availability, and the Montreal Canadiens were believed to be the team most interested in the talented center’s services.
Any team that doesn’t at least engage in blue-sky discussions about any player on their roster is selling themselves short, but the way the situation was handled did little to dispel the notion that Lightning owners were cash-strapped and looking to get out from under Lecavalier’s new 11-year deal worth $85 million. It appears Lecavalier will remain with the Lightning, as will St. Louis and Malone.
from Lightning Strikes,
Rick Tocchet said after Thursday’s morning skate that defenseman Paul Ranger, who has missed four straight games with a mysterious upper-body injury, likely will be shut down for the rest of the season. He gave no specifics about the injury, but indicated Ranger will need surgery to correct the problem.
“He’s probably going to get shut down. We’ll probably make that decision later today,” Tocchet said. “We’re going to have one more meeting about it.”
from Damian Cristodero & Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times,
The Lightning announced a crowd of 17,249 for Saturday’s game with the Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum.
But if a recent pattern is an indication, tickets sold likely were significantly fewer.
Numbers provided by Hillsborough County, which owns the 13-year-old facility, show that through December (the latest data available) the team sold an average of 14,119 tickets for 16 dates. Announced crowds, however, averaged 16,698.
from Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times,
Mike Green said if he thought about the history he could make tonight, the game itself might not be as fun.
And, really, Green said, isn’t fun what playing in the NHL is all about?
“I just want to go out and play and do what I’m doing right now,” the Capitals defenseman said. “Whatever comes from it is great. I’m just enjoying myself.”
And scoring goals.
A tally against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum and Green, 23, from Calgary, becomes the first NHL blueliner to score goals in eight consecutive games.
continued and a little note stating Lightning employees must now pay $30 per month for parking.
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