Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lightning Strikes,
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet met with captain Vinny Lecavalier for about an hour after Tuesday’s practice at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tocchet did not get into specifics about what they spoke, but said the meting was a good one. Broadly, the coach said the discussion was about how the locker room can better police itself, especially after Saturday’s dreadful 2-0 loss to the Senators in Ottawa.
“He cares. He’s a great kid,” Tocchet said. “He’s learning what it takes. It’s not only about him playing. It’s about what his team should be all about.”
Tocchet talked about cleaning up some sloppiness in how the Lightning is conducting itself on and off the ice.
from Craig Simpson of Hockey and Blogs at CBC,
First of all, I want to start this with saying I don’t want to join the debate that has been brewing between fired head coach Barry Melrose and the Tampa Bay Lightning organization about whether or not first-overall pick Steve Stamkos belongs in the NHL or not….
I have to wonder why the team didn’t push to give Steve Stamkos an opportunity to play for his country again at the world junior tournament. With the Lightning struggling and sitting in last place, how can it hurt?
Stamkos would only benefit from having another great international experience and a chance at building his confidence and leadership abilities. Returning for another world junior championship would put him in a starring role and give him a chance to be a veteran on the team.
from Lightning Strikes,
The two stats from this morning’s story I thought were most interesting: the Lightning so far has used 36 players, a league high. It also has made 29 transactions since the start of the regular season. Compare that to the 2003-04 season in which it made only 14. I know, the two seasons aren’t really comparable, but thought it illustrated well where this team is at.
We also found out from GM Brian Lawton where the team is going. In short, expect more callups from AHL Norfolk. Players such as Brandon Segal, Andy Rogers, Vladimir Mihalik and even goaltender Karri Ramo will be coming up at some point to get a better look.
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
Sources tell TSN the Tampa Bay Lightning are investigating legal grounds for withholding the remainder of Barry Melrose’s contract with the team.
Melrose’s assessment of rookie forward Steven Stamkos is the basis for the investigation.
from Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times,
Owner Len Barrie disputed former coach Barry Melrose’s assertion he was being told whom to play. He also called Melrose’s preparation before the season “total negligence.”
“I knew we were in trouble when we went to Prague,” Barrie said Wednesday of the season-opening trip with the Rangers, “and Barry wanted to play the (defensive) left wing lock.”
It was the latest salvo in the war of words between Melrose and the team. Barrie said he wants it to stop but added, “I wanted to respond for our organization and our guys.”
from Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times,
A little advice for Barry Melrose.
Honestly, Barry. Give it a rest. At this point, the more you say, the worse you look.
We get it. You think you were hosed by the new Lightning owners. You were blown up after 16 games, and there were those in the front office who wanted you out by the time the team plane landed for the opener in Prague.
Each week, the NHL on TSN panel voices their opinions on the hot topics of the day in the Wednesday Night Hockey Quiz.
Question No. 3: Former Lightning head coach Barry Melrose says Steven Stamkos is not ready to play in the National Hockey League this season. Do you agree?
Bob Clarke: What’s the matter with Melrose saying something that dumb? This is a great young player who needed good coaching that he obviously didn’t get. But he’s going to be a great player in this league.
Bob McKenzie: I will say absolutely. He can play in this league and we saw an example of it on Wednesday night against Buffalo when he assisted on a goal by Martin St. Louis….
John Tortorella: Yes - there was no structure and coaching going on for those first 16 games…
more questions and answers…
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled center Zenon Konopka from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League on emergency basis, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.
Konopka, 6-foot-1, 213-pounds, has played in 27 games with Norfolk this season, recording seven goals and 21 points. He is tied for third on the team in points and is fifth in goals. His three game-winning goals lead the team.
from Lightning Strikes,
In a nutshell, Melrose said he believes Stamkos is not ready for the NHL.
“That’s his opinion,” Stamkos said. “My job is to help this team win and do everything possible. You can’t let stuff like that bother you. It’s his opinion, he said what he said. If anything, this team can use it as motivation.”
“We talked,” Tocchet said. “He’s a great kid. It’s a process, and he’s going to be a great player for this franchise. I think sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself. ... He told me he laughed about it, which was nice to hear.”
“You just don’t pay attention to it,” Stamkos said. “You keep working hard. This team is working hard. ... That’s the only thing we’re focused on, not comments from anyone.”
more on the Lightning…
from John Buccigross of ESPN,
...I need to address my disease, be up-front and confess to you, my people.
I have to turn the page and stop rooting for the Tampa Bay Lightning to lose.
Because, since they fired Barry Melrose on Nov. 14, that’s what I’ve been doing. And, as regular readers of this column know, I profess to be an NHL atheist. I love all 30 teams equally and despise none of them. I’ve violated that covenant since the Mullet was shorn of his Bolts coaching duties, and it’s time to put it all behind me, ‘cause life goes on.
I must say my rooting for Tampa Bay to lose because the team fired my friend has been wildly successful. The Lightning were 5-7-4 when they fired Melrose after 16 games. Since Barry was fired, they have one win in 11 games.
from Damian Cristodero of Lightning Strikes,
Tocchet was so upset with Melrose’s characterization, he felt like he had to sound off.
On Melrose continuing to bash the Lightning: “Yeah, I’m disappointed. I’m not a fan of people who go to the mike all the time to air their dirty laundry. You have a problem, it should have been done before.”
On Melrose saying Tocchet is being directed by ownership: “I take it personally, to be honest with you. I’m not a puppet. Ownership doesn’t tell me who to play. They are very supportive of me. I have a great coaching staff that helps me make decisions. Like I said, this is our training camp now. We’re starting to put a system in place, which I think we’re getting better at. We now have a system….”
In case you missed the earlier comments from Melrose this morning, start here.
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