Tampa Bay Lightning players: ultimate responsibility for a safer game is in the hands of all players
With the general managers meetings beginning today in Boca Raton, plenty of talk this morning in Toronto about how to attack the problem of head shots and concussions. Both center Dominic Moore and captain Vinny Lecavalier said, ultimately, players will have to be the leaders when it comes to making a safer game. But Lecavalier added "the consequences have to be a lot more."
Lecavalier said he would be in favor of "longer suspensions" for hits to the head. But he also said how much better it has been since last season's establishment of Rule 48, which prohibits blind-side and lateral hits to the head.
"A while back you wouldn't even talk about blind-side hits. It was part of the game," he said. "Now, you do it and you get suspended, so it is definitely better in that aspect. But we have to keep it going and eliminate anything with concussions and head shots. You can do that to help the game and for the safety of the players. We just have to keep it going."
Moore said he completely agrees with Canucks star Henrik Sedin, who told the Vancouver Sun it is the players, more than the GMs or the owners, who have to lead for real reforms.
"The players need to be more proactive about it, for sure; maybe take the reins as well, deciding what they want and getting together with the league and working with them to find the right solution," said Moore, the Lightning's rep to the Players Association. "I think everyone wants the same thing at the end of the day."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. ... Coach Guy Boucher said not to expect defenseman Randy Jones (high ankle sprain) back before the playoffs. In fact, sounded as if Jones playing in the postseason would be a bonus. ... Wing Ryan Malone, who tonight will miss his 15th game with a stomach muscle tear, skated with the team in a red jersey. Malone said he's "not too worried" about getting back in the lineup by April. "I think everything is going great," he said. Malone said he still has some discomfort but added he is about 75 percent and is waiting to "play some games and be ready for the playoffs. I'll be well-rested." ... Center Steven Stamkos, who leads the league with 43 goals, said he would give up 50 goals "any day" to make the playoffs. "Last year, we were in a different situation," he said. "Everyone was trying to get me that goal because winning wasn't the top priority when you're out of the playoffs. You want to win every night, but when you're out of the playoffs it's tough. This year, we're right in the thick of things. Obviously, I want to score goals and help the team win any way I can." And Stamkos, since a drought of one goal in 12 games, has two goals, six points, 17 shots on goal in his past four games. "Things are coming back on track," he said. "I feel my game is getting better and better. I'm definitely getting the confidence back, and you want to feel that way going into this part of the season." ... Asked about Stamkos scoring 50, Boucher said, "It's a difficult number, but to be honest with you, I don't really care about 50. It's fun for people, but Stammer is the first one who doesn't really care about the number. He cares about making his team win. He's an unselfish team player. It's always about the team. Some people say that but in his case it's very true. He's an extremely well-raised kid. I've been so impressed by his desire to help this team win but not for his goals, so, for us, numbers don't really matter right now." ... Lecavalier has 20 shots (one goal) in his past two games. ... Roloson is only 5-7-0 at the Air Canada Centre, but he has a 2.32 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. On Nov. 23, 2009, for the Islanders, he stopped 58 of 61 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. "I can't remember that far back," Roloson said. "You prepare for stuff like that. That's when your training comes into effect. Be prepared and whatever happens, happens." ... Stamkos, you may have heard, had two temporary caps put onto teeth (one upper, one lower) after taking a stick to the mouth during Saturday's overtime loss to the Panthers. He said his mouth is still sore but it did not affect his enjoyment of a home-cooked meal on Sunday. "Just put the food in the back of my mouth and chewed," he said. ... Why is Boucher confident the team will snap out of its scoring slump? "We're making sure, right now, we're taking care of the process," he said. "It's about results right now, the problem, but it's not about the process. Things are a lot better. It's a weird stretch for us right now." ... Seems as if defenseman Matt Smaby will be scratched but no official word. ... Defenseman Pavel Kubina will sit out the last game of a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Chicago's David Bolland.
Finally, if you haven't gotten the word, I have joined the 21st century and began a Twitter feed. It's called LightningTimes. Hope you will become a follower. I promise not to bore you with things that do not concern the team or the NHL. I won't tell you, for example, that I am having a muffin for breakfast, didn't sleep well last night or, shocking, it's cold in Canada. In other words, I hope to use the device selectively to get you pertinent information in a timely manner. Hope you enjoy it.