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As you might have guessed by now, it was impossible to ask coach John Tortorella about Dan Boyle because Tortorella didn't take any questions after Thursday's brutal 8-4 loss to the Senators. But we will talk to him eventually and that question will keep.

Here was the scene, though, after the game in the locker room: There was no one there except Andre Roy and Shane O'Brien. Look, nobody is under any obligation to speak to the media and, generally, the guys are available, but when your team is beaten down as the Lightning was by Ottawa, it's just good public relations to stand in there and talk about it. And no offense to Andre and Shane, both of whom are terrific guys and always generous with their time, but in situations like Thursday's you want to see some of the veteran leadership be available to give their perspective.

It is not as if Lightning players were unavailable. If you stood in the hallway outside the locker room long enough, whoever you wanted to speak to would come along. Marty St. Louis, seeing reporters in the locker room as he exited the shower, offered to speak. Defenseman Dan Boyle showed up and, after a multi-week silence, talked about his return to the lineup. And if you read today's game story, Andre was very good. The larger point is that after what was no longer than a five-minute cooling off period only two players were immediately available to talk about a bad loss, and none of them were the alternate captains.

Quite a difference from the days of Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor, captains who always were in the locker room, win or lose. Here's a story from the Cup season, or it might have been the season before.

The Lightning had just been hammered by the Islanders on Long Island in a horrible effort. Truly putrid. The locker room opens (in those days it was  a 10-minute cooling off period) and every player was at his locker at the Nassau Coliseum. Even Nikolai Khabibulin, who didn't play that night, was sitting there.

I tuned to Andreychuk and apologized for interrupting a team meeting. Andreychuk said it was fine and added, "No, we're waiting for you.''

Andreychuk had demanded the players wait at their lockers to be accountable for a bad loss.

"You ask anyone here anything you want,'' Andreychuk said.

And I did, though it was a little uncomfortable talking to players in an otherwise hushed locker room with everyone else listening to what a teammate had to say.

I tell that story to fellow reporters who cover other sports and they cannot believe it. Can you imagine the strength Andreychuk had as a leader, the respect with which he was held, that his teammates agreed to sit and wait to talk to reporters. It was an incredible scene I will never forget.

Would have liked to have seen some of that on Thursday.



[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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