Koules: Lawton in as VP of hockey operations
Koules said the team would issue a statement later in the day. Lawton, you might recall was the first United States player to ever be drafted No. 1 overall, by the North Stars in 1983.
It is an interesting hire given that Lawton during the draft denied speaking to Koules and owner Len Barrie about a job. He admitted having lunch with the pair but said it had nothing to do with future employment. He went so far as to say he was mulling offers from two other teams. Asked if either of those teams were the Lightning, Lawton said no.
But Barrie said the deal did not start coming together until Sunday. Lawton, he said, flew up to Tampa yesterday and he was hired at 5 p.m.
"He's a real detail guy," Barrie said. "He'll be working with our group as a right arm for everybody. He knows the league and he's well-respected."
Lawton, who turns 43 on Sunday, played 10 NHL seasons for the North Stars, Rangers, Whalers, Nordiques, Bruins and Sharks. He had 112 goals, 266 points and 401 penalty minutes in 483 games. He most recently was an agent, and represented former Lightning player Nolan Pratt. He has closed his office.
The bottom line is Lawton is on board. No word on how this will effect the responsibilities of general manger Jay Feaster, though Barrie admitted, "There's going to be a little bit of overlap, and with Oren and I as well."
The owners have said they will use an evaluation period to determine whose responsibilities fall where.