Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune,
Seen Stamkos? Those billboards are all over town, touting the virtues of the 18-year-old the Bolts chose Friday with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
I have a better idea, at least for incoming owner Oren Koules.
That would be Michael Jordan, who has never played hockey (so far as we know). That didn’t stop former Bolts owner Art Williams from declaring 10 years ago on a night just like this that Vinny Lecavalier would become “the Michael Jordan of hockey.” Then, as now, the Bolts built the kid into Superman without bothering to wait for him to grow.
They made Vinny the savior of the franchise before he even knew his way around town.
It appears the excitement surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning’s offseason won’t stop after selecting Steven Stamkos at Friday’s NHL Entry Draft.
TSN’s sister station in Quebec RDS reports that the Lightning and centre Vincent Lecavalier have made very good progress on discussions that would see him sign a ‘lifelong’ contract with the club after July 1.
Lecavalier, 28, is entering the final season of a four-year, $27.5 million contract where he will earn $7.167 million.
Original RDS report (in French).
from Lightning Strikes,
And superstar Vinny Lecavalier was thrilled his good friend and linemate with whom he has had so much success has a chance to be back on the MVP line with him and Marty St. Louis. And that is probably most important.
The Lightning has said since February it wants to sign Lecavalier to an extension. That rhetoric was turned up earlier this month when Lecavalier’s agent, Kent Hughes, said he believes the organization is shooting to keep Lecavalier on the team for his entire career. Not that Prospal, 33, will be around that long, but getting Prospal sends a definite message to Lecavalier that the organization cares what he thinks.
via Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Feaster would not confirm the various two-month-old reports that Barry Melrose will be installed as the Lightning’s new bench boss, but did admit the new coach will be hired by the new ownership group.
“It’s not my search. I think that the owners have some real ideas in where they want to go,” said Feaster, who jokingly added, “one of the reasons I showed up [at the coach’s dinner last night] was to see who sits down, so I can find out who is my new coach.”
The Philadelphia Flyers announced Wednesday that they have traded the rights to forward Vaclav Prospal to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a seventh round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
“Vinny really didn’t express much of an interest in coming back and playing for us next season,” said General Manager Holmgren in making the announcement. “His heart is elsewhere.”
from Lightning Strikes,
In what apparently was a unanimous vote by the NHL’s board of governors, Oren Koules’ OK Hockey was approved as new owner of the Lightning.
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
And lastly - and this should excite you if you are a Lightning fan - I’ve heard from those in the know that Koules expects to be very active in the free agent market once July 1 hits. This has been speculated and general manager Jay Feaster has hinted at it, but I have been told directly that the team will be at the forefront of the free agent market, at least in terms of who they want to seek (no guarantee they will actually gain the services of those players on their hit list, but at least they are going to be aggressive).
more on the Bolts…
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Walz, the former Wild center who retired from the National Hockey League as a player in December, has been asked if he’s interested in becoming an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The conversation took place three weeks ago and is expected to continue this week if the Lightning’s ownership change is approved, as expected, Wednesday by the Board of Governors.
After Hollywood producer Oren Koules and former NHLer Len Barrie get the keys to the Lightning, former Los Angeles Kings coach and current ESPN analyst Barry Melrose is expected to be announced as head coach….
According to a source, the Lightning is also interested in Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet and San Jose Sharks scout and former goalie Cap Raeder to round out Melrose’s staff.
From Damian Cristodero at the St. Petersburg Times,
He appreciated the on-ice structure Tortorella brought in seven seasons as Lightning coach and said, “Definitely he will have success. I don’t think he’ll have a tough time finding another job.”
Still, the superstar center said, there were times last season that Tortorella’s finger-to-chest style was difficult for some younger players to handle.
“He was very tough on young players,” Lecavalier said. “His emotions sometimes made it difficult. I’m not saying that in a bad way. That’s the type of coach he is. He is very aggressive, very emotional and very into the game.”
From Brian Compton at NHL.com,
“Hockey guys are really involved in the community,” Lecavalier said. “Before starting a foundation, I wanted to be established as an NHL player. After the (work stoppage), I said I’m starting a foundation. It wasn’t that easy. There’s a lot of work to do that I had no idea about it. I said ‘I’m starting tomorrow,’ but that’s not how it works. You have to choose what the project is going to be and go and see different people.”
Lecavalier, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery after posting 92 points during the 2007-08 season, was very much a part of the process of this new [Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center] from the beginning. He’ll even get to voice his opinion, although he said he will leave the final decisions to the experts.
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