The team was on the ice at 8 a.m. today for the punishment that resulted from Tuesday's dreadful 3-0 loss to the Avalanche.
It was 46 minutes of non-stop skating. It began with two-on-two stick-checking battles for pucks. After that "Herbies,'' which were named after the late coach Herb Brooks and are kind of like suicides for hockey. Players skated goal line to goal line, then to the far blue line and back, then the center line, then the near blue line and finished up with three back-and-forths to the opposite goal line.
More two-on-two battles, another round of Herbies, more two-on-two battles and finally finishing with six laps around the rink at a decidedly slower speed than when the morning began. The team then went into the locker room for what was billed as a two-hour video session.
No doubt the team needed it after embarrassing itself against a Colorado team that wasn't exactly a recreation of the old Canadiens. But the bigger question for me is who is responsible for this mess? Our columnist John Romano had a good column today trying to pinpoint how the team went from Stanley Cup champions to almost the worst team in the league in four years. He lays some of the blame on simple misfortune, some at the feet of general manager Jay Feaster.
1. The lockout, which took a year off of player contracts and changed the rules of free agency, which meant the team had to try to lock up its big stars earlier than planned.
2. Tying up as much money as it did in three offensive players (Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Brad Richards) at the expense of keeping goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. True, Nik never gave the Lightning a chance to match the Blackhawks, but when general manager Jay Feaster was forced to keep the core intact after losing his goaltender, it also forced the team to have a higher percentage of its payroll tied up in three offensive players.
3. Horrible decisions about goaltenders; that is, John Grahame and Marc Denis. The Denis trade also caused the loss of 30-goal scorer Fredrik Modin.
4. The complete lack of success in the draft. After drafting Vinny and Brad in 1998, Tampa Bay has only Ryan Craig, Karri Ramo, Paul Ranger, Nick Tarnasky and Mike Lundin out of the draft and onto the big club this season for a substantial period. None are what you would call impact players, though Ranger has a chance.
Feel free to add your own.