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Two-day prospects camp opens Sept. 4

Left wing Jonathan Drouin was the No. 3 overall  pick of the June draft.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Left wing Jonathan Drouin was the No. 3 overall pick of the June draft.

The Lightning will hold a prospects camp on Sept. 4-5 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Twenty-four players are scheduled to attend, including left wing Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall  pick of the June draft.

The camp -- with practices at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 and 11 a.m. on Sept. 5 -- is free and open to the public. It also prefaces Tampa Bay's participation in the Panthers prospect tournament Sept. 6-8 at the Saveology IcePlex in Coral Springs.

The Lightning faces the Predators at 2 p.m. on Sept. 6; the Bruins at noon on Sept. 7; and the Panthers at 4 p.m. on Sept. 8.

Tickets are free, but fans must register here and print out a ticket.

Tampa Bay's camp will have two goalies, including newly signed Kristers Gudlevskis; eight defensemen, including Andrej Sustr and Slater Koekkoek; and 14 forwards, including Drouin, J.T. Brown, Nikita Kucherov and Vlad Namestnikov.

To see the entire roster, go here.

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Jonathan Drouin: 'My foot is fine'

Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick of the June draft, said he is "pretty excited" about the team's pre-camp rookie workouts Sept. 4-5 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. He said he has gained seven pounds of muscle over the summer and now weighs in at 195 pounds.

Most important, though, is Drouin's left foot, which was bruised severely enough earlier this month that Hockey Canada held him out of a couple of scheduled days of skating at a camp for the 2014 world junior championship.

"My foot is fine," the left wing said. "I've been working out and everything, so everything is good."

Drouin, 18, spoke Tuesday from the 2013 Rookie Showcase in Toronto, where 25 of the NHL's top prospects/rookies gathered to, in full uniforms, have their pictures taken by Panini America and Upper Deck for their first-year trading cards and memorabilia launches.

"Getting to put on all the equipment is pretty special," Drouin said. …

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Hedman: 'Positive' response to his remarks against Russia's anti-gay laws

Victor Hedman last week criticized Russia's anti-gay laws and bans on homosexual propaganda.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Victor Hedman last week criticized Russia's anti-gay laws and bans on homosexual propaganda.

Victor Hedman was quick to point out he hasn't been the only Swedish athlete to criticize Russia's anti-gay laws, but the Lightning defenseman's statements to reporters in his home country was one of the strongest.

Now, three days later, Hedman said the response he has received has been "positive."

"Everything has been just positive from the people I know," Hedman on Monday said by phone. "It's been a big topic with everyone and as far as with friends and family, they liked the response. We just stood up for everyone's rights."

Hedman last week criticized Russia's anti-gay laws and bans on homosexual propaganda. Russia in February will host the Olympics in Sochi, and officials there have said the laws will apply to the participating athletes.

"That's completely wrong. We're all humans," Hedman told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. "No one should have a say in what way you are sexually oriented."

"The Olympics is there for a reason," Hedman continued. "Everybody should be able to participate and be themselves. Everybody should stand up for homosexual rights." …

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New Lightning assistant Gwozdecky says of being fired by the University of Denver, 'There will always be some wounds'

George Gwozdecky waves goodbye from the elevator after a news conference in April to discuss his firing from the University of Denver after 19 seasons.

John Leyba/The Denver Post

George Gwozdecky waves goodbye from the elevator after a news conference in April to discuss his firing from the University of Denver after 19 seasons.

New Lightning assistant George Gwozdecky said he did not expect to be fired in April by the University of Denver. And while he said, "There will always be some wounds," he added, "But I've got a lot more positive feelings about our years there and the people that I've worked with and the great players that I've worked with rather than with one person's decision."

Gwozdecky, 60, was fired after 19 seasons with the Pioneers and national championships in 2004 and '05. He won at least 20 games in his final 12 seasons, but the team exited in the first round of the NCAA playoffs in five of the past six seasons.

"The consistency of success I was proud of," Gwozdecky said. "That's a lot of work by our assistant coaches and staff and players. So, yeah, (being fired) kind of caught me off guard."

Gwozdecky was in Tampa Tuesday and spoke on many topics, including the adjustments he will have to make coaching the pros; how he uses Bruce Springsteen as part of his motivational speeches; and how Marty St. Louis in his final game for the University of Vermont -- in 1997 against Denver in the NCAA regionals -- forced the Pioneers to change their defensive scheme. …

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Matt Carle says new Lightning assistant George Gwozdecky will be 'good for our team'

Lightning defenseman Matt Carle played for George Gwozdecky at the University of Denver.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning defenseman Matt Carle played for George Gwozdecky at the University of Denver.

Granted, it's been seven years since he played for George Gwozdecky at the University of Denver, but Lightning defenseman Matt Carle said bringing in Gwozdecky as an assistant coach "is really good for our team."

Carle believes this, he said, because of how Gwozdecky -- a college head coach for 24 years, including 19 at Denver -- handled his players. That is key for Tampa Bay, considering it's influx of young talent.

"One of the biggest things for us and our organization is we have a lot of young guys coming up," said Carle, who played for Gwozdecky from 2003-06. "As a college coach that's all you're dealing with is young guys and trying to turn them into I don't want to say pros, but he did a really good job with a lot of guys developing them into men. I think that's really good for our team. We have all these guys down in the minors who had a lot of success down there. For us to be successful as a team in Tampa, we need these guys to develop as well, so I think it's going to be a huge help for the younger guys."

General manager Steve Yzerman, who officially announced the hiring on Friday, agreed. …

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Lightning's new assistant coach is George Gwozdecky

George Gwozdecky, fired in April after 19 seasons at the University of Denver and with one year left on his contract, won national championships in 2004 and 2005 and was 443-267-64.

Special to the Times

George Gwozdecky, fired in April after 19 seasons at the University of Denver and with one year left on his contract, won national championships in 2004 and 2005 and was 443-267-64.

Former University of Denver coach George Gwozdecky has agreed to become a Lightning assistant, a source familiar with the situation said. As usual with Tampa Bay, an announcement will come only after a contract has been signed.

He will join coach Jon Cooper and assistants Rick Bowness and Steve Thomas. The hiring was first reported by the Denver Post.

Gwozdecky, 60, fired in April after 19 seasons with the Pioneers and with one year left on his contract, won national championships in 2004 and 2005 and was 443-267-64. Denver also is the only Division I program to win at least 20 games the past 12 seasons. But the Pioneers were bounced from the NCAA tournament in the first round in five of the past six years.

Gwozdecky is an interesting hire in that coach Jon Cooper seemed adamant at the June draft that he wanted another assistant who, like Bowness, had NHL experience.

 

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Prospect Adam Erne has big day at world junior evaluation camp

The Lightning made Adam Erne, right, the 33rd overall draft pick in June.

Getty Images

The Lightning made Adam Erne, right, the 33rd overall draft pick in June.

Lightning prospect Adam Erne had a big day at USA Hockey's world junior championship evaluation camp with a goal, an assist and the decisive shootout goal in the United States' 4-3 victory over Finland.

Better yet, he did it in front of Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who was watching at Lake Placid, N.Y.

"Smart with the puck," Yzerman wrote in a text message about Erne's game. "Scored a nice power-play goal to tie the game in the third and then two nice ones in the shootout."

Erne, 18, drafted No. 33 overall in June, tied the game 3-3 7:24 into the third period. He also assisted on Mike Brodzinski's power-play goal 65 seconds earlier as the United States overcame a 3-1 deficit. Erne, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound left wing, then scored twice in the seven-round shootout, including the winner.

Erne actually took three turns during the shootout.

"(Coach Don Lucia) said, 'Who wants to go?'" Erne told reporters in Lake Placid. "Nobody said anything, so I said, 'I'll go.'"

The evaluation camp, in which 44 players were invited, is the first step toward determining the team that will participate in the 2014 world championship in Sweden. …

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Former Bolt Shawn Burr -- 'a great teammate for all of us' -- dead at 47

Shawn Burr, left, played three seasons for the Lightning in two stints.

Times files (1997)

Shawn Burr, left, played three seasons for the Lightning in two stints.

When Brian Bradley heard his former Lightning teammate, Shawn Burr, died on Monday at age 47, he remembered him in two ways.

As a player, Bradley said, Burr was the kind you loved to have on your team but hated playing.

"He was always a gamer," Bradley said. "He was always tough to play against. He was always in your face and talking. He would do whatever it takes to win."

As a person, Bradley added, "He was very, very funny. Just a really good guy. He was a great teammate for all of us."

Burr died of head trauma after a fall Monday down the stairs of his St. Clair, Mich., home. He had been diagnosed with leukemia in February 2011, though a bone marrow transplant had substantially improved his condition.

"It's just really sad," Bradley said. …

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Jonathan Drouin out of Canadian junior camp with foot injury

Hockey Canada is holding Lightning top prospect Jonathan Drouin out of the early skating sessions of its summer junior development camp because of what it said is a bruised left foot.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Hockey Canada is holding Lightning top prospect Jonathan Drouin out of the early skating sessions of its summer junior development camp because of what it said is a bruised left foot.

Calling it simply a precaution, Hockey Canada is holding Lightning top prospect Jonathan Drouin out of the early skating sessions of its summer junior development camp because of what it said is a bruised left foot.

"The foot was just sore after taking a puck off it a few days before camp," Hockey Canada spokesman Andre Brin wrote in an email. "Kept out of our two ice sessions in Montreal for precautionary reasons."

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman wrote in a text message that he had no other details.

Brin added that the slickly skilled Drouin, 18, the No. 3 overall pick in the June draft who is expected to at least start the season with Tampa Bay, could have skated in the Sunday-Monday sessions in Montreal. "But since he and other returning players aren't coming with the team to Lake Placid (Monday) afternoon," Brin wrote, "it was decided not to put him on the ice."

Drouin and three other players on Canada's 2013 world junior team -- Nathan MacKinnon, Morgan Rielly and Griffin Reinhart -- are not traveling to Lake Placid, N.Y., site of exhibition games this week with Finland, Sweden and the United States, so coaches can see more of newcomers. …

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