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Lightning's summer assignment: get in shape



Coach Rick Tocchet has said several times he does not think his players are in the best shape they could be. Seems he believes it is because the team did not do a good job conditioning at the start of the season. There was reasons for that, of course. The trip to Europe did not help because of all the traveling and games that were played. And former coach Barry Melrose didn't set that as a priority, either. And once a team falls behind in that category, it is very difficult to make up during the grind of a season.

Tocchet on Monday said that is going to change this summer. He is putting it on the players to come into camp in shape and ready to play.

"It won't be accepted," Tocchet said of not being ready for training camp. "If you don't come in in good shape on this team next year, I don't know what's going to happen. It could get ugly for you."

Sounds a lot like former coach John Tortorella, doesn't it? Torts was a physical nut himself and he put his players through a grueling first few days of camp to see who did their summer work. He also had the players skate laps and laps every day, but no start-and-stop drills so as to limit groin injuries.

Tocchet has some of that in him as well. His first coach was Mike Keenan, who was out front of the curve in terms of getting his players in shape. Tocchet has told of drills in which he and his former Flyers teammates skated with tires tied to ropes around their waists.

Tocchet said he knows most of the players have personal trainers they use during the summer. He said the tea will check in with them every few weeks to chart progress and, again, see who is doing the proper work.

"Whether it's old school or new school, you get paid a lot of money, it's an 11- or 11 and a half-month job," Tocchet said. "Just hitting the golf course and riding the bike every once in a while over the summer is not going to cut it. You have to put time in the gym and work out and work out properly."

Other stuff: Tocchet said with every day goalie Mike Smith (concussion) does not practice makes his return a "moot point." Smith has said he wants to return this season and GM Brian Lawton backed him up. But with Smith doing just 20 minutes a day on a stationary bike, the odds seem long. ... As for next season, Tocchet said, "I don't know what I'd think if I didn't have Smitty next year. A lot of sleepless nights. He's our No. 1 goalie. We need him back." ... Tocchet loves what defenseman Matt Lashoff has done so far. "He's got a good shot on the power play. Ilike that he shoots. He's amde some good plays with the puck. I think there's some upside." ... Mike McKenna is expected to start in goal Tuesday against the Blue Jackets. ... Former Lightning star Fredrik Modin (knee) did not make the trip from Columbus. Former Lightning Chris Gratton is expected to be a healthy scratch.

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


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