Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Oren Koules still calling the shots for Lightning
Posted Jun 23, 2009 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Jun 23, 2009 at 03:06 PM
While the long-term direction of the Lightning franchise may continue to be in flux, in the short term, everything is status quo.
Lightning co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie held a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the league offices in New York on Tuesday to determine who has the final say in team related decisions. A source close to the situation said this afternoon that everything remains on par, with Tampa Bay general manager Brian Lawton in control of the team decisions and Koules, who also serves as the team’s governor, having the final say in what direction the team takes for this weekend’s draft and the start of free agency next week.
The decision by Bettman, who has intervened in Lightning ownership disputes twice in the past 18 months, may have an immediate impact on the future of captain Vinny Lecavalier. The team has been long been rumored to be exploring moving Lecavalier before his contract extension begins on July 1, a 11-year deal that pays him $85 million and includes a no-trade clause. Koules is believed to be in favor of moving Lecavalier, despite negotiating the deal with Lecavalier’s agent last summer, to shed payroll down to the low $40 million range.
Barrie did not return messages left for him and Koules was not available, according to a team spokesman.