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Coach Guy Boucher seeks intensity when Tampa Bay Lightning opens camp

BRANDON — One thing about an NHL season, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, "The B plan can become the A plan pretty quick."

That is why Boucher doesn't want any letup at a training camp that starts Friday at the Ice Sports Forum with perhaps three jobs (and maybe only one) open on the big club.

"My speech to the players will be that everything you do matters," Boucher said. "It matters because we get information to act on them now or a little later or in the long run. There's injuries and all kinds of trades that can happen."

Barring that, it may be tough to crack the lineup.

Goaltending is set, and with eight defensemen on one-way contracts, the blue line is full. That leaves finding replacements for forwards Simon Gagne and Sean Bergenheim, both lost to free agency, and filling a fourth-line grinder position.

Newly acquired Ryan Shannon likely will get a chance to fill Gagne's spot as a top-six forward. And Tom Pyatt, who played last season for the Canadiens, seems to have the early inside track on one of the other two openings.

The last spot seems up for grabs between (take a breath) Dana Tyrell, Mattias Ritola, Blair Jones, Carter Ashton, Alex Picard, James Wright, Michel Ouellet, Trevor Smith and James Wyman.

"Play to your strengths," Boucher said is his advice. "You have to make me think you're the best at something so I can make room for you."

SEEING CLEARLY: Vinny Lecavalier said he will stick with the visor he was forced to wear in April after Chicago's Michael Frolik inadvertently clipped him in the right eye with a stick blade.

The captain, who had a scratched cornea, wore the visor through the playoffs and kept it during summer workouts.

"I usually take it off when I'm skating alone, but I kept it on just to make sure I got used to it even more," said Lecavalier, who added that being a father changed his attitude about the equipment.

"Maybe it's a cliche talking like that, but it's true," he said. "You don't want to lose an eye, and it just came that close.

THE DEPARTED: Bergenheim, who signed a four-year, $11 million deal with the Panthers, said his decision to leave Tampa Bay came down to money.

"The way we looked at the market was very different," he said of the Lightning's attempts to re-sign him.

Bergenheim, who said he is keeping his Tampa home and skated at the Ice Sports Forum ahead of training camp, was a breakout star in the playoffs with nine goals, five fewer than he had in 80 regular-season games. "I learned a lot here," he said. "It's something I will take with me wherever I play in the future."

CHARITY EVENT: Lecavalier's fifth annual Texas Hold 'Em Celebrity Poker Tournament and Casino Night is Wednesday at the Pepin Hospitality Center in Tampa. Proceeds benefit the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital. For information or to register, call (727) 781-8183 or go to vinny4.com.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Steven Stamkos and W Marty St. Louis spent two days last week at the NHL media blowout in New York. … D Victor Hedman for the second straight year in his native Sweden held the Victor Hedman Hockey School last month. Canucks star Daniel Sedin helped coach. Hedman said about 100 kids showed up, including the son of Swedish icon Markus Naslund. … RW Teddy Purcell turned 26 last week, D Mattias Ohlund 35.

Coach Guy Boucher seeks intensity when Tampa Bay Lightning opens camp 09/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 9:28pm]
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