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Lightning 'one of preferred clubs' for free agent Zaripov

Russia forward Danis Zaripov, bottom, is challenged by Sweden forward Joakim Lindstrom during the World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.

AP photo

Russia forward Danis Zaripov, bottom, is challenged by Sweden forward Joakim Lindstrom during the World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.

With veteran Russian wing Danis Zaripov granted free agency this week, he's given a lot of NHL teams something to think about in terms of late summer shopping.

And, apparently, Zaripov, 36, considers the Lightning one of his preferred landing spots, agent Dan Milstein told the Tampa Bay Times.

The question is, how mutual is the interest?

Milstein said they're in the process of talking to the top clubs now, including Tampa Bay, and weighing their options. There's no timeline for a decision, though training camp opens two weeks from today.

Zaripov became available this week when the NHL approved his eligibility following a doping ban in the Kontinental Hockey League and international play. The NHL ruled the suspension wouldn't have happened under its rules (pseudoephedrine is not on the NHL/NHLPA prohibited substances list), and pointed out Zaripov was also not allowed to testify at his hearing. Zaripov, wanting to clear his name, agreed to additional testing if he signs a contract. He had never tested positive before. …

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Callahan: 'It feels good to just feel healthy again'

“It feels good to just feel healthy again, to be honest with you,” Ryan Callahan said.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2016)

“It feels good to just feel healthy again, to be honest with you,” Ryan Callahan said.

BRANDON – Ryan Callahan dashed around the ice Monday morning. He called out the drills as he and a handful of teammates participated in a pre-training camp workout.

He joined the rush. He crashed the net.

He shot. He scored.

He laughed.

“It feels good to just feel healthy again, to be honest with you,” he said afterwards.

The Lightning forward played only 18 games last year in a season that was delayed because of offseason hip surgery, interrupted because of residual pain than ultimately cut short as he underwent a follow-up procedure in February.

“There’s no question last year was a very tough year for me physically and mentally,” Callahan said. “The biggest thing for me was to have this entire summer to train and train the way I want to to prepare for this season. That’s been nice. Going out there and not having any limitations and feeling the way I do is very encouraging and refreshing, too. It’s mentally refreshing to be able to go out there and play the way you want to play.”

Callahan underwent surgery June 21, 2016 to repair a labral tear in his right hip. He spent the rest of the summer rehabbing from the surgery.  …

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Camp opens Sept. 14, Fan Fest on Sept. 16

A Lightning news on this Friday …

The team announced training camp begins Sept. 14 and the annual Fan Fest is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Amalie Arena.

Times will be announced later, but as always, Fan Fest is free and open to the public.

 

Fans can watch practice, get autographs and take selfies with players. There will also be food trucks, team merchandise and used equipment sale and a children’s play area.

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Lightning wing J.T. Brown on why he donated to remove Confederate statue

J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.

DIRK SHADD | Times

J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.

Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.

"It was hard to watch," Brown told the Tampa Bay Times Thursday.

One of Brown's first thoughts was how difficult it would be eventually for him and his wife, Lexi, to explain to their eight-week-old daughter, Lily, of why such a tragic event happened. Brown, 27, is one of around 30 African American players in the NHL.

"That (protest) could have been in Tampa, could be anywhere in the country where the statues are," Brown said. "I was just thinking to myself, how was I going to explain to my daughter if she was old enough, how would I explain why someone doesn't like her? Or why is this going on in the world today? For me that kind of re-motivated me to make sure I'm doing everything I can to make sure the community is a better place for her and everyone." …

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Lightning not among early suitors for Will Butcher

Will Butcher is a strong puck-mover, with 43 points in 37 games for the Pioneers en route to the NCAA Championship.

AP photo

Will Butcher is a strong puck-mover, with 43 points in 37 games for the Pioneers en route to the NCAA Championship.

Hobey Baker-winning defenseman Will Butcher is now an unrestricted free agent, and is likely to draw his share of suitors.

So far, however, the Lightning isn't among them.

Butcher, 22, drafted by the Avalanche in 2013, is expected to chat with several teams, reportedly including the Sabres, Devils and Golden Knights. The left-shot defenseman is a strong puck-mover, with 43 points in 37 games for the Pioneers en route to the NCAA Championship.

Agent Brian Bartlett said Butcher could sign with a team in the next week or so, but Tampa Bay has yet to reach out. Bartlett said Butcher doesn't require a guranteed NHL roster spot, that he'd be open to starting in the AHL if it was the right organization and fit.

"What ends up winning the day, I'm not sure," Bartlett told the Times. "But we have not told teams that if you don't have an NHL spot for him in training camp, don't bother even calling. It's quite the opposite." …

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Nikita Kucherov in a wide-ranging Q&A

Nikita Kucherov recently did a Q&A with Russia's Sovsport.ru, in which he addressed an array of topics.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Nikita Kucherov recently did a Q&A with Russia's Sovsport.ru, in which he addressed an array of topics.

While Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has a tendency to be quiet around the media, he's a Russian with a variety of interests and a passionate hockey mind.

I've experienced it before in many conversations the past few years, and it's part of the All-Star wing that Lightning fans likely would like see more of.

Kucherov, 24, recently did a Q&A with Russia's Sovsport.ru, in which he addressed an array of topics, from his season to the Olympics and even Game of Thrones. A few subjects the Tampa Bay Times had already broached a couple weeks ago in our Kucherov story , specifically how he's put synthetic ice in his garage in a tireless summer workout routine. And, just as importantly, how Kucherov feels good after a meeting with GM Steve Yzerman earlier this summer, putting some harshly-translated comments about the Lightning behind him.

Kucherov was very complimentary of his teammates in this piece, including saying goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy could become the best goalie in the world in a few years. Here's excerpts from Q&A from Sovsport.u, translated to English via Google Translate. …

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Lightning's Erik Condra on impact of late Bryan Murray

Bryan Murray died of colon cancer Saturday at the age of 74.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

Bryan Murray died of colon cancer Saturday at the age of 74.

For Lightning wing Erik Condra, the recent passing of Bryan Murray hit home.

Murray, who died of colon cancer Saturday at the age of 74, was the general manager of the Ottawa Senators when Condra first broke into the NHL. Condra, 31, was picked in the seventh round by Ottawa in 2008, playing for the Senators from 2010-2015 after a college career at Notre Dame.

"He gave me my first opportunity to play in the NHL," Condra said Tuesday. "He's just a great hockey mind. You always think of hockey, but he was also a great person. He would try to stay away as much as he could (as a GM), but when you're in tough times, he'd come in and make his presence known. He always seemed to be on the players' side, always wanted to hear what you had to say, listen to your opinion. Sometimes, people in that position can be stubborn, but was open and willing to learn." …

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Lightning single game tickets on sale to general public Aug. 11

Victor Hedman (77) and Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrate a goal during a game between the Lightning and Wild in March.

Times files (2017)

Victor Hedman (77) and Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrate a goal during a game between the Lightning and Wild in March.

Single game tickets for 2017-18 Lightning home games go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 11 exclusively at www.TampaBayLightning.com/tickets.

Pre-sales for season ticket holders begins Aug. 8, for Lightning Insider Text Club members on Aug. 9 and for CHASE card holders Aug. 10. Fans wishing to join the TEXT CLUB for the pre-sale can do so by messaging BOLTS to 61873.

Tampa Bay hosts the 2018 NHL All-Star Game during the weekend of January 27-29. The event includes the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and the NHL All-Star Game. That ticket info for that weekend will be announced at a later date.

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Nikita Kucherov puts comments in past, eyes Cup run

Nikita Kucherov met in late June with Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, discussing some harshly-translated comments he made in the Russian media in late April.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Nikita Kucherov met in late June with Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, discussing some harshly-translated comments he made in the Russian media in late April.

There hasn't been much rest in Nikita Kucherov's extended offseason.

After helping lead Russia to a bronze medal at the World Championships in mid-May, Kucherov, 24, returned to Tampa in early June. He's been skating locally five-to-six days a week for more than a month, including Tuesday's solo workout at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

Kucherov has also privately begun to work out any perceived issues with the Lightning. The All-Star wing met in late June with general manager Steve Yzerman, discussing some harshly-translated comments he made in the Russian media in late April. Kucherov had told Sovetsky Sport, a Russian daily sports newspaper, that some Tampa Bay players "got their money and stopped working." Kucherov also lamented how often the coaching staff changed lines.

"(Kucherov and Yzerman) did have a meeting," Dan Milstein, Kucherov's agent, told The Tampa Bay Times. "They got on the same page. There's no disagreements.

"Everything is good. What was said is done, stays in the past." …

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