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Buyout ends tenure of disappointing Denis

Marc Denis cleared waivers Wednesday, and the Lightning bought out the final year of the goaltender's contract.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Denis said. "I hate the word sorry, but I'm kind of sorry things didn't work out. I really thought everything would be a good fit, but unfortunately it wasn't. Now we turn the page."

The Lightning is responsible for two-thirds of the $3-million Denis was owed. As it applies to the salary cap, the $2-million payment will be spread over double the number of years left on the contract, meaning the hit will be $1-million next season and in 2009-10.

Denis, 30, was acquired in June 2006 from the Blue Jackets in the Fredrik Modin deal. In 54 games, he was 18-23-1 with a 3.32 goals-against average and an .879 save percentage.

He will be an unrestricted free agent Tuesday.

"Needless to say, we are all sorry things didn't work out differently for Marc with our organization," general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement.

"To his credit, Marc has been the ultimate professional to the very end, handling the news with the same dignity and grace he has handled everything that has happened during his tenure in Tampa. We wish him nothing but success as he moves forward with his career."

LAWTON HIRED: The Lightning announced Brian Lawton as vice president of hockey operations.

Lawton was the first U.S.-born player drafted No. 1 overall, in 1983 by the North Stars. He spent the past 14 years as an agent.

"He's a real detail guy," owner Len Barrie said. "He'll be working with our group as a right arm for everybody. He knows the league, and he's well-respected."

The New Jersey native, who turns 43 on Sunday, played 10 NHL seasons for the North Stars, Rangers, Whalers, Nordiques, Bruins and Sharks. He had 112 goals, 266 points and 401 penalty minutes in 483 games.

No word on how his hiring affects Feaster's responsibilities.

BARBER BURNED OUT: Bill Barber, who resigned after six years as director of player personnel, said he tired of traveling and wanted more time with his family.

"It was a tough year personally in the sense of travel," Barber said of last season. "I've covered so much hockey the past 24 years, it finally caught up to me in the sense you get caught up in the business and you lose sight of the things that are really important. And that would be family."

Barber, who turns 56 next month, said his health is fine and new ownership did not push him out.

"There were no pressures," he said. "It's just time for me to step back and evaluate."

QUALIFYING OFFERS: The team sent offers to center Ryan Craig and defensemen Jay Rosehill and Justin Fletcher, ensuring Tampa Bay's right to match outside offers for the restricted free agents.

Not qualified were goaltenders Jonathan Boutin and Ryan Munce, defensemen Mike Egener and Mario Scalzo and forwards Zbynek Hrdel and Marek Kvapil, all of whom will be unrestricted free agents Tuesday.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Buyout ends tenure of disappointing Denis 06/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 4:42pm]

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