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Lightning to find help on defense plus other notes

Posted Jul 10, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Jul 11, 2008 at 12:10 AM

Had the chance this afternoon to get introduced to new vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton. Spent about an hour talking with him on a variety of topics, including a few of the newsworthy variety that I wanted to pass along. First off, don’t worry, the defense you see right now, most likely won’t be the defense you see suit up in Prague in October. Sounds like there is a plan to try to find some help in that department, and considering the lack of overall experience on the blue line, that’s an encouraging sign because if not, this would be your top eight on defense - Filip Kuba, Paul Ranger, Shane O’Brien, Alex Picard, Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby, Janne Niskala and Andre Hutchinson (yes, it was a typo, I forgot about Matt Carle, who should log top-four minutes. So many new faces, so many that slip through the crevices of my mind   red face .

Here’s a sampling of what Lawton had to say about the plans in works for improving the defense:

“We have some nice depth and some nice pieces I’m very happy about, but I still don’t think we’re there yet. We still have some work to do,” he said.

The most likely option is using some of the team’s excess forwards to land some help. There’s not much out there in terms of free agents, so that route is virtually closed off (remember, they tried to go after the likes of Mike Commodore in free agency and were in the running for Rob Blake). The waiver wire option has been brought up, but Lawton said it’s a bit premature to be thinking in terms of sifting through players on waivers.

Some other quick hit notes:

The contract of Vinny Lecavalier, which is expected to be announced on Tuesday, is apparently a bit off base of what has been reported. TSN and Sportsnet were both stating that the final salary number would be in the $77 million range on a nine-year deal. Sounds like the final salary number might be different from that.

“The numbers are not as advertised,” Lawton said Thursday. “We are putting the final touches on it. Everything you have read and all that’s been reported in the media, they are all false. We’ll announce it all next week.”

* While Jay Feaster still holds the title as Lightning general manager, that situation should be resolved in the near future.

Lawton said he is in discussions with Feaster about how everything is going to be resolved, with a buy out the topic that’s making the rounds right now.

In the meantime, Lawton said Thursday that newly hired assistant GM Tom Kurvers will share the title with current assistant GM Claude Loiselle. While Lawton didn’t say what titles each would hold, Kurvers will be primarily responsible for player personnel issues while Loiselle will handle legal issues, including negotiating contracts and matters involving the collective bargaining agreement.

Lawton also mentioned that assistant coaches Mike Sullivan and Jeff Reese, who have one year remaining on their contracts, have been speaking to other teams.

The members of the team’s training and equipment staff are all expected to remain with the team.

Lawton said no decision has been made on video coach Nigel Kirwan, but Lawton stated he has heard plenty of positives about how he does his job.

Reader Comments

Por (Jake) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Nigel Kirwan needs to keep his job. A class act person with alot of hockey knowledge. Indirectly coached me and always had good advice for me as I grew up and played the gam.

Please keep Nigel on staff.

Jacob Bain and family are behind you Nigel.

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Por (Mark) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I find it very hard to believe Matt Carle is not on that list of top 8 D-men. I’m sure it was a typo or loss of thought, but he was the center piece in the Boyle trade… Am I wrong?

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Por (KyleFreadrich43) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Yeah, they gotta keep Nigel, if he can help Jake, anything is possible wink

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Mark,

I agree with you that it is surprising that there are minor leaguers listed ahead of Carle.  Won’t he have to clear waivers to play in Norfolk?

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Por (Pattie) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I hope Nigel stays. I think he is one of the best, if not the best at his job. If he can handle and deal with Torts, he can certainly handle and deal with the new coach.
Good Luck Nigel, fingers crossed!
Nigel is also one of the nicest and most personable gentlemen out there.
If Lawton needs any help making this decision, please have him call us.

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Por (Karma) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

With all these new faces on the team, skaters AND coaches, I really wonder how long it will take for the new system to be understood and the chemistry to take place.
The NHL isn’t like the NBA where you can rely on talent and overhaul a team overnight.  It’s more like the NFL - lineman, qb’s backs, receivers, all knowing exactly where their teammates are going to be in any given situation.
At least the top line is in place.. I can see them coming out of the gate hard, but falling near turkey-day and being 10 under .500 by the break.

Re: Nigel - been there since day one. Never heard of him to complain. Always working hard before, after and during games.  You don’t hear much about video coaches, but this guy is good.

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Por (Jon O) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Nigel is a standout guy.. I’ve never gotten the chance to personally sit with him, but have played against his teams and he was an instructor at my level 3 coaching. Has an extreme wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game and always seemed like a nice guy.

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Por (TJ) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I think you also missed the “w” on the end of Hutchinson’s first name, EE.  Isn’t his name Andrew instead of Andre? LOL you must be going through Andre Roy withdrawal…

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Por (Geografer) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

TSN is reporting this is done. That the Lightning and Feaster have reached an agreement and Feaster is out.
Thanks for your service Jay - especially for making sure that Vinny Lecavalier stayed in Tampa thus helping to secure that Stanley Cup!

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Por (Bill Smith) on July 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

First “jerry jones” Barrie says he likes the current defense and continues to sign forwards as if there was no tomorrow.

Now Lawton acknowldges the need for upgrades on the defense. Wish they would make up their minds.

Maybe they are going to take a page out of Scotty Bowman’s book by having Vinny 4 play D like Bowman did with Federov when Detoit was short on defense a while back.

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Having a star forward play defense wasn’t original with Scotty Bowman.  Gordie Howe did it several times when a defenseman would get hurt.  He would play one shift on defense, plus his original shift with his forward line.  He played that way till the end of the game.

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Por (BillSmith) on July 12, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I did not know that, thanks. Gordie Howe was a one of kind player. I would have liked to have seen him play.

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