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Brad Richards turns down the Tampa Bay Lightning, general manager Steve Yzerman says

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said Friday night that free agent center Brad Richards has declined the Lightning's offer and will not be coming to Tampa Bay. The problem was the money. Richards might have been willing to take less to play for the Lightning, but not that much.

"Too big of a bridge to gap," Yzerman said.

Yzerman said he spent about 30 minutes in Toronto with Richards and his Newport Sports agent Pat Morris. He did not have a glitzy video like the Kings' which featured Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant. "I just went in there by myself," Yzerman said.

Reports had the Kings offer at an annual average salary of $6.5 million, though the NY Post reported one team offered Richards a contract that would pay $12 million in the first two seasons.

"I don't know the exact numbers or what he's been offered, but look how the day has gone," Yzerman said. "He's the most coveted free-agent forward out there."

The refusal by Richards leaves the Lightning with a hole on one of its top two lines, notwithstanding the absence of unsigned center Steven Stamkos. Yzerman said of his plan for Saturday: "What we're going to do tonight is kind of regroup and go over all of the signings, see who's available and circle back now and see who's left and that includes our own outstanding free agents and see what the best fit is for us."

That includes Simon Gagne, who is reportedly talking to the Flyers about a return.

"Potentially we will," Yzerman said when asked if he would contact Gagne. "We're not making any promises. We're going to look around. Simon is a good player. We're going to go over the list of the players available and decide if there's a good fit for us financially and player wise."

As for negotiations with Stamkos, Yzerman stuck to his oft-repeated line.

"I mean it sincerely," he said. "We're optimistic we'll get a contract done."

[Last modified: Sunday, July 31, 2011 12:15am]


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