Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Tampa Tribune,
Lightning GM Jay Feaster has stated his intention to open contract talks with Boyle’s agent. But the odds of a deal being worked out in the next three weeks are remote, at best, even if a purchase agreement to sell the team to Oren Koules is announced this week as expected.
Defensemen the caliber of Boyle, who can skate and move the puck, are commodities in the NHL these days and teams don’t like to part with them. But that also means the player holds the hammer in negotiations and there’s a good chance Boyle’s side could start talks seeking a salary starting in the neighborhood of $7 million a season. That’s why moving Boyle appears all but likely in my opinion.
from the St. Petersburg Times,
Gratton and Boyle have no-trade clauses, meaning they must approve any deal. But that doesn’t make things any easier.
“I try not to pay attention to it,” Gratton said. “We’re trying to stay focused and trying to climb back into the playoff race and worry about the task at hand.”
Would he waive his no-trade clause as he did when traded to Tampa Bay from the Panthers?
“You have to wait and see,” he said. “I was thankful to get the opportunity to come back here. I’ve made it known I don’t want to leave. But you always want to do what’s best for the franchise.”
“Ask me in a month,” Boyle said. “The last thing I want to do is talk about getting traded. I want to concentrate on playing well and helping this team turn things around. That’s my focus.”
from Jay Feaster at the Hockey News,
This season, we’re not sure whether we’ll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. We’re not looking to raise the white flag right now, both from the standpoint of our team and our fans and also our market. That’s one of the benefits of having the deadline earlier, because if you are still in it, you’re probably going to be disinclined to be a seller. You’re not going to say: “Well, we don’t think we’re going to make it,” when you’re only sitting two, four or six points out with a lot of hockey still to be played.
Danny Boyle’s return to our lineup will also affect our thinking at the trade deadline (he’s been out with a wrist injury for most of the season). We haven’t put a timeframe on it, because Boyle still has to go through the rehab process and reach different milestones the doctor has asked him to achieve. But having him back will be huge.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
The plans to open the 2008-09 NHL regular season on two European fronts are now finalized.
The league is apparently ready to formally announce this weekend at the NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta that, as expected, the Ottawa Senators will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm and the New York Rangers will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague.
from Lightning Strikes,
We already know the basic plot of the day after the Lightning’s bad loss on Jan. 15 to the Avalanche; the 8 a.m. skate and then the players-only video session that lasted two hours and forced the players to be accountable to each other. We also have heard from coach John Tortorella about how it wasn’t done to embarrass the players.
But in a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Tortorella for the first time gave a few extra details about the players-only session, what was expected and what was accomplished, and why, perhaps, it was the starting point for a three-game winning streak.
from Bolts Report at the Tampa Tribune,
Gang, I’m not one to work on spreading rumors or throwing stuff up against the wall until I hope something sticks. I don’t like to operate that way and to me it’s just a lot of hot air (or wasted print).
But I have to point this fact out tonight that Dallas had co-general manager Brett Hull and director of player personnel Dave Taylor in attendence at the game tonight. Not even completely sure they were there to scout the Lightning, but I can’t imagine they would come here just to scout a team in their own conference.
from the St. Petersburg Times,
“At some point, you have to be realistic,” he said. “If toward the end of February, if we haven’t made a dent in it and we’re still on the outside looking in and it’s an uphill climb, we have to make sure we don’t lose assets and get nothing in return.”
That was a reference to the team’s potential unrestricted free agents, the most high profile being left wing Vinny Prospal and defenseman Dan Boyle.
Feaster stressed, “That is not in the plans as we talk today.”
from Jay Feaster at the Hockey News,
The activity has already heated up as the phone calls have started to come more furiously since the roster freeze at Christmas. I think it’s the mere fact there’s a deadline, that there’s a date you have to get things done by if you’re going to do something. Also, at the midway point in the season you have to assess your team because the GM meeting is coming up in February, about two weeks before the trade deadline.
With the All-Star Game approaching, you can bet the managers have already started thinking about where they are. By the time the GM meeting comes, things will really start to heat up. It’s certainly a time when things start to crystallize a whole lot more.
from John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times,
The scores are no longer important. The standings mean even less.
For too long we have been lost in the day-to-day travails of the Lightning. Hoping, wishing and praying in something we probably understood was a lie. It is time, finally, to face the truth.
The Lightning is great no more. It is not even particularly good. And until the organization recognizes that and starts adjusting accordingly, this devotion to mediocrity will continue.
Update 12:29pm ET: From Erik Erlendsson at TBO.com,
Here’s a quick thought on my part - I know it’s not a great shock considering the way things have gone this year, but it’s time to bag the season, look to sell off and find some draft picks/prospects to get back in return for some players. I don’t mean any of the big three because I just don’t see that happening at this point, but there are certainly players that could provide a boost for a playoff team - such as Vinny Prospal, Filip Kuba and possibly even Dan Boyle should he return to form since he is in a contract year.
via Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Finally, a note to fans of the Lightning, Leafs, and Kings: It. Is. Over.
Miracles are never completely out of the question, but thanks to the NHL’s unbalanced schedule, there is virtually no possibility whatsoever Tampa Bay, Toronto or Los Angeles can leapfrog the five or six teams in front of them to secure a playoff berth. Let the firings and/or fire sales begin.
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