Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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More changes for the Lightning, Vinny signing for nine years
Posted Jun 25, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Jun 25, 2008 at 09:05 PM
So do you think all the rumors of Vinny wanting to go to Montreal will now stop? My guess is, um, no they won’t stop because Habs fans just can’t wrap their hands around the idea that Lecavalier is so happy in Tampa that he doesn’t have a lot of interest in trying to resurrect the Canadiens. I mean, seriously, he can only fail if he ever suited up for the Habs, either he wins a Stanley Cup (which is what would be expected of him) or he doesn’t, in which cased he fails. But Lecavalier is a member of the Tampa Bay community, and he’s now guaranteed to be a member of the Lightning for virtually the rest of his career. As reported here yesterday, Lecavalier has all but agreed to terms of a nine-year contract that TSN reports is worth $77 million (a great signing at $8.5 million per season considering the stupid money being thrown around the league right now). Nothing can be announced until July 1 at the earliest, but I would look for the formal announcement to be made more toward the middle of the month. Lecavalier has a charity function he has later in July, so I would expect it will all be made official then.
—-On another note, looks like that meeting between former player agent Brian Lawton and Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie in Ottawa last week wasn’t just a luncheon. It appears that Lawton, the first overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1983, has been hired by the Lightning as the vice president of hockey operations. In essence, this position replaces Bill Barber, who resigned on Tuesday as director of player personnel.
Lawton had been an agent after his playing days were over, but recently resigned from that position in hopes of landing a job somewhere as a general manager in the league. He is expected to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the team as part of a management group that will include current general manager Jay Feaster.
A formal announcement should happen later today on both Lawton’s hiring and Barber’s resignation.
—-I spoke to Barber earlier today as he was getting ready to spend time with his family at their cottage in Ontario and he said he’s just worn out with all the travel demands in his position. It’s something he had been mulling over for sometime but didn’t decided on until he spoke with general manager Jay Feaster at the draft in Ottawa over the weekend to inform him that it was time to move on. He spoke a lot about how much he has enjoyed his time with the Lightning and will forever remember the Stanley Cup run. He praised the fans of Tampa Bay for their support and hopes you guys show that same support for the new owners. Barber also made sure that everybody understood that this decision had nothing to do with the new owners coming in.
—-And finally, at least for now, with the way things are happening at a frenzied pace these days, who knows. But the team has formally announced the contract of Marc Denis has been bought out. No shock. He had $3 million left on his deal, which means it cost them $2 million to buy him out and will be hit with a $1 million salary cap hit for the next two seasons.
—-Here’s an update on the team’s list of restricted free agents and who has been qualified:
Qualified: Ryan Craig, Justin Fletcher and Jay Rosehill
Those who have not been qualified, thereby are now unrestricted free agents: Mike Egener, Jonathan Boutin, Zbynek Hrdel, Marek Kvapil, Ryan Munce and Mario Scalzo.
I’m a bit surprised by the decision not to qualify Egener and Boutin. Certainly Egener has been a disappointment after being the team’s first pick (second round) in 2003. He had some injury issues and just couldn’t seem to get it together with his decision making. They tried him at forward and he made some strides there last year. Boutin, meanwhile, just didn’t seem to get the respect for his improvements since being selected in the third round in 2003. He played well at times in Norfolk last season.
And it’s become pretty clear that the team will look to pursue a goaltender in free agency with Boutin and Munce not being qualified and Marc Denis bought out. Tampa Bay has just three goaltenders under contract now in Mike Smith, Karri Ramo and Riku Helenius.
There are some intriguing names out there that might be an enticement to bring in and compete with Smith and Ramo for two spots - Ty Conklin, Alex Auld, Olie Kolzig, Patrick Lalime. Johan Holmqvist is available (hey, we know he’s capable of being a good backup/part-time starter, right) and a certain Ray Emery is out there, but do you want that baggage?
—-Guys, in the hoopla of events the past couple of days, I missed getting this information out there in regards to a season ticket holder function tomorrow at the Forum that you must RSVP for if you want to attend. Here’s the info from the team:
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s newest members of the organization, head coach Barry Melrose and first overall draft pick Steven Stamkos, will meet season ticket holders on Thursday, June 26 from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Melrose and Stamkos will meet season ticket holders in Icons restaurant at the St. Pete Times Forum. In order to RSVP all season ticket holders must call Lightning Premium Services at 813.301.6795.