Camp opens and Lukowich's ankle
The only unfortunate moment during the first day of training camp at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon was what seems a minor injury to Brad Lukowich. The defenseman had to leave the ice during the six three-lap sprints the players skated with what trainer Tommy Mulligan said was left ankle tendinitis. Lukowich said he was simply being cautious when he left the ice after he tried to round a net and his skate hit a rut and "went the wrong way.'' He also sat out Thursday night's 3-mile run, riding a stationary bike instead. He will be evaluated Friday before the three 15-lap endurance tests.
Otherwise, there were no real disasters among the players during the three-lap sprints. Distinguishing himself was Doug Janik (and I'll have more on him in tomorrow's paper) and the usual suspects, especially Vinny Lecavalier and Marty. Defenseman Shane O'Brien showed off some stamina after trimming down to 224 from 237 pounds. And defenseman Jay Leach showed some speed.
"It doesn't transform into what they're going to do on the ice as far as a hockey player,'' Tortorella said. "But it tels me they are here to compete for a job because they are doing something they can control. They took care of the conditioning part of it.''
Defenseman Dan Jancevski did not have a great day. As coach john Tortorella said, "He was dying at the end.'' And left wing Andre Roy had some rough moments. But, especially Andre, pushed through to the end and even got some props from Torts about sticking with it. Generally, though, it was a pretty good showing.
Here are some highlights:
Lecavalier, coming off a league-leading 52-goals season, said the Lightning should be taken seriously as a division contender but stopped short when asked about the Stanley Cup. It wasn't because of a lack of conviction, he said, but a sense of proportion. "We want to win our division first and go from there,'' he said. "Once we make the playoffs, then we can say, 'Okay, we want to win the Cup.' ''
Tortorella talked about how important a year this is for the team, given the closing window on having the Big 4 in their prime (remember, defenseman Dan Boyle can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season), and the possibility of new ownership, even though they might not get approval from the league and close the sale until at least December. "I think it's a very important year for us,'' he said. "We have the Big 4 really coming into the prime of their careers. We have them at such a great time with how they are leading and how they believe in the team concept. To have people like that, especially those four guys and surround them with some other people, you want it to work pretty quickly because the window is pretty short.''
He also spoke about how the Lightning fought to gain respect in the league, and even though the organization is still respected, the team needs to rebuild its reputation somewhat. "we're a pretty good team. We have to get back to believing we're a great team and really instill a hardness about ourselves, about the way we play.'' Torts said he was not talking about fighting but playing hard on the puck, getting pucks to the net and playing in front of the net.
In Thursday night's 3-mile run at the University of Tampa, right wing Nick Tarnasky defended his title in 17 minutes, 48 seconds. Kyle Wanvig was second at 18:05 and Andreas Karlsson was third at 18:57.