Rick Tocchet's contract, Steven Stamkos and Mike Smith

So many things are going on right now that are taking Lightning general manager Brian Lawton away from the area, the formal signing of what is believed to be interim coach Rick Tocchet's new three-year deal keeps getting pushed back. Now, it seems, Tocchet, who has said the sides are "very close" to finally getting this thing done, won't officially be announced and introduced as head coach until Monday's open house at the St. Pete Times Forum. That starts at 7 p.m. and includes a Q&A session with Tocchet, Lawton and owner Oren Koules. 

What's been keeping Lawton busy? First it was the Ontario Hockey League playoff between Windsor and Brampton in which Lawton was believed looking at Brampton center Matt Duchene, believed by many to be a top-five draft pick. Now, it's the world championship. Lawton flew to Switzerland today and will not return until Saturday.

 A little housekeeping now:

Pretty interesting game at the world championship on Monday as Canada lost a 4-3 shootout decision to Finland. Given how poorly the Lightning fared in shootouts, it should be noted Marty St. Louis scored on two of three shootout attempts and Steven Stamkos scored on one of two. In international competition, players can shoot more than once. The one against Finland had 14 total shots between the teams. Stamkos also gets high marks for not backing down to agitator Jarkko Ruutu, who was cross-checked by Stamkos after Stamkos was shoved by Ruutu, who did a terrific job last season of getting under Tampa Bay's skin. ... St. Louis leads the tournament with 14 points and 10 assists, and is tied for second at plus-8. Stamkos is tied for the lead with six goals. ... Lawton said Vinny Lecavalier's recovery from wrist surgery has been "seamless." ... Lawton said goaltender Mike Smith on Monday left the Tampa area for home, and while he has yet to get on the ice ("We never asked him to," Lawton said), progress apparently is being made as Smith recovers from post concussion syndrome. "He's really making some nice progress," Lawton said. "So, we're excited about that." Asked if he could be more specific about the progress, Lawton said, "For me, it's about getting his color back and his eyes kind of clear. It's almost an appearance thing as much as anything else, and that's critical."

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

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