Lightning G Dan Ellis: Battle for playing time with Mike Smith won't hurt friendship
Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have been friends since their days in the Dallas Stars organization. They played together for AHL Iowa in 2005-06. So, even though they will be fighting for playing time next season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ellis, signed Thursday to a two-year, $3 million deal, said their friendship can take whatever strain results.
"I don't think it complicates anything," Ellis said. "Smitty and I have been in this position before. We competed in Dallas, and we know there's only one net, and whoever plays best is going to get more games and is going to be the guy down the stretch and things like that. I've been text messaging with Smitty today. We both just believe we can provide solid goaltending for Tampa, and just give them good goaltending no matter who is in the net. It's the coach's decision as to who plays more, but it's also our responsibility to bring our best effort to gain those games."
Ellis said Tampa was a prime destination for him because "it has everything.
"It's a team that's made an overhaul in their operations staff. It has a brand new owner who wants to have a world-class team. Everything he talks about is turning the organization around to being the one that won the Stanley Cup. A lot of people will say that, but their actions won't back it up. But he went out and got Steve Yzerman, the best GM on the market. Then they got the best coach on the market (Guy Boucher), and they have some of the best players money can buy. When you take in all those factors, it's an extremely attractive place to play."
Having Smith around will help
"He's always been a good friend," Ellis said. "That's important. It helps in getting to know the team, getting to know the city. It kind of kick-starts the teammate side of things. It heps you to jell with people. It's always a major benefit."