Budget won't be cut, could go higher
On a day the team fired associate coach Craig Ramsay, general manager Jay Feaster also had some good news. The Lightning's payroll will not be cut, as was speculated, but remain the same as last season: $44-million. Feaster also said he believes that if the team is doing well during the season, he will get the green light from owner Bill Davidson to go even higher with acquisitions during the season or at the trade deadline.
Feaster said that should put to rest all the media speculation about the future of Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Marty St. Louis and Dan Boyle, all of whom Feaster reiterated he wants to keep.
"I just feel wonderful about the commitment and the support Mr. Davidson continues to show,'' Feaster said.
Feaster said he got the news Wednesday at a meeting with Davidson at his Auburn Hills, Mich., office. Feaster and team president Ron Campbell had said the preliminary budget was $40-million, about $4-million less than last season during which the Lightning's parent company, Palace Sports & Entertainment reported losses of $9-million on its Tampa operation.
"He made it clear he wanted to talk hockey,'' Feaster said of Davidson. "Right off the bat, he said, 'The numbers you presented, we're going to spend more.' He recognizes we are very, very close. He's bullish on this team.''
Still, the total likely will put Tampa Bay behind teams willing to spend to the cap, which is expected to be as much as $49-million. But it at least gives Feaster some breathing room.