Lightning players react to Erne's hit on Drouin
Whether they had seen the hit Lightning prospect Adam Erne put on fellow prospect Jonathan Drouin in a Friday night game -- Drouin might have sustained a concussion from the from-behind hit -- Tampa Bay players say there is no responsibility to hold up on any hit against any opponent (even if they are in the same organization).
The only responsibility is to to play clean.
"It's a game," Lightning left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie said. "Once the game starts you have no friends. You have to finish your hit. You don't slow down. But if it's an illegal hit, you can't do that."
Erne, who plays for Quebec of the junior Quebec league, wasn't apologetic after the game, saying he believed Drouin, who plays for Halifax, dove.
"He wasn't far from the boards and I pushed him pretty hard," said Erne, who received a game misconduct for the hit. I thought it was a dive and I thought everybody else did, too. I wouldn't even have gotten a penalty if he didn't dive into the boards."
Making the situation even more emotional is that Drouin, the No. 3 overall draft pick last summer, is scheduled to play for Canada in the upcoming world junior championship while Erne is on the United States' preliminary roster.
All that aside, Lightning players continually reiterated there is no holding back against any opponent, as long as it is done within the rules.
"I don't think guys are being careful out there. I just think guys don't want to be careless," said center Nate Thompson who on Saturday night will face off against his brother-in-law, Winnipeg's Mark Stuart, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "Mark and I will always play each other hard. We always do."
Same for Lightning wing Tom Pyatt and his brother, Taylor, who plays with the Rangers.
"I'm just not going to try to kill him if he is in a vulnerable spot," Tom said. "You want to be responsible. You don't want to be making dangerous hits."
"When it comes down to it, you're in a game," Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio said. "It happens all the time when you're playing against your friends. For those 60 minutes it's game on, and then after you can talk."
Other stuff from this morning: Anders Lindback gets the start in net Saturday against the Jets. ... Right wing Richard Panik will be scratched for a second straight game. About Panik, who battled inconsistency in the minors, coach Jon Cooper said, "He's just not playing the way we know he can play. Unfortunately, these are tough lessons that all coaches and players go through. He's a big part of our team. He's going to be a big part of our team. But right now he has to beat guys out, and he just hasn't yet." ... Sounds as if defensemen Radko Gudas (upper body) and Eric Brewer (lower body) will play against the Jets. ... Labrie said he is ready to go. ... Defenseman Keith Aulie, who underwent surgery Friday for a fractured left hand, said he knew the hand was in bad shape on Thursday when he and the Senators player collided and the bone "snapped like a toothpick."