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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman: assistant coach Wayne Fleming has a job waiting for him

Thought this was worth mentioning on the blog as it will be only a small item in Friday's paper. But Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming has a job waiting for him when he recovers from treatment for brain cancer, even if he is not ready to rejoin the team for the beginning of next season, GM Steve Yzerman said.

"Everything is subject to change but right now my intention is to leave (the position) open," Yzerman said Thursday. "When Wayne is healthy enough to rejoin the coaching staff, he'll rejoin the coaching staff."

Couple of things at work here. As Yzerman said of his decision, "It's the right thing to do." But it also is the prudent thing to do for Fleming, 60, who still is in a California hospital, where he had surgery to remove the malignant tumor and is now undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. It has to be a boost for his spirits knowing the team is waiting for him.

"He's progressing," Yzerman said. "He's making some positive progress, but it's slow."

Fleming was a rallying point for Lightning players, who dedicated the postseason to him. Fleming also was the architect of Tampa Bay's penalty kill that was so successful during the playoffs, working at 92.3 percent efficiency, second only to the Canadiens. In Fleming's absence, assistant coach Dan Lacroix took over the penalty kill.

"We're pla  ying a man short right now," Yzerman said. "We'll be fine."

[Last modified: Saturday, July 9, 2011 12:15am]


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