'Good chance' Erne makes NHL debut Tuesday against Jets
Rookie F Adam Erne, recalled Sunday in the wake of the lower body injury suffered Saturday by F Brian Boyle, skated during Monday’s practice on the line with Michael Bournival and J.T. Brown.
Coach Jon Cooper said after practice that Boyle was “questionable” for Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg.
When asked if that meant Erne would make his NHL debut, Cooper said, “Good chance, so if he’s going to make his debut we wanted to get him here and have a practice under his belt and give him the best chance to succeed.”
Erne, 6-1, 214 pounds, brings a physical presence to the Lightning along with his speed and puck-handling skills.
“It’s hard to find those guys who are big, strong, can skate and possess skill,” Cooper said. “He’s really developed in the American (Hockey) League and deserved his call up.”
Erne said the call-up came quickly. A number of Syracuse players have been called to Tampa Bay this season because of all the injuries to the Lightning. He said he wondered if he would get an opportunity.
“Of course,” he said. “I think it has to be earned, and I think everybody who’s been called up this year has earned it. Lately I’ve been playing well. I’m happy to see my buddies get called up this year and play in games, and I’m happy it’s my turn.”
If Erne knew he was playing against the Jets he did not let on after Monday’s practice. He said he hoped he would learn in time to have his parents make the trip from Connecticut to Tampa Bay to see him play his first NHL game.
“I think this is as much off an accomplishment for them as it for me,” Erne said. “They put in a lot of years and a lot of lot of money for me to be here. It was a lot of work on my part, but there was a lot of the behind scenes work by them that goes unnoticed.”