Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Defenseman David Hale pleasant surprise for Tampa Bay Lightning

David Hale, acquired in the offseason from Phoenix, has earned Rick Tocchet’s respect.


David Hale, acquired in the offseason from Phoenix, has earned Rick Tocchet’s respect.

TAMPA — Coach Rick Tocchet said he didn't know what to expect from David Hale after the defenseman was acquired in July from the Coyotes in the Radim Vrbata deal.

Hale has turned into a pleasant surprise, with an attitude Tocchet said is a "perfect example" for the culture the Lightning is trying to create.

Hale, 28, appeared to be on the outside looking in on a crowded blue line during training camp, and he sat out a few games early in the season. But the Colorado Springs native didn't complain and instead let his gritty play do the talking, making it tough for Tocchet to take him out of the lineup. Hale played in his 11th straight game Saturday against the Kings and assisted on the Lightning's lone goal. He is second among Lightning defensemen in plus-minus (plus-3).

"(Hale) didn't pout; he rolled up his sleeves. I love guys like that," Tocchet said. "I respect that. He took the approach of, 'Okay, I'm going to work my (rear end) off, and when it's my chance … .' It says a lot about him."

Hale, 6 feet 1 and 218 pounds, isn't flashy, but Tocchet said he's at his best on tough plays in tight spots.

"He's a good player in small areas. People don't come out of the corners on him," Tocchet said.

"He doesn't get spun around. He's got to work on his puck handling, passing, things like that. But the close-quarter stuff is where he excels."

Too many?: Tocchet said there are positives in carrying nine defensemen (most teams carry seven), including creating competition and having depth in case of injury (like Saturday, when Matt Walker was scratched due to what Tocchet called "body maintenance").

But Tocchet acknowledged that having that many isn't ideal, especially at this point in the season.

"I think we've gone a little bit too long with … nine defensemen," he said. "It's tough. It's a little unusual this late in the season. But it's a nice problem, because some teams are really going down with a lot of defensemen (getting hurt)."

Up close: After beginning the season with a nine-game goalless drought, LW Alex Tanguay has racked up seven points (including three goals) in his past eight games. And if Tanguay is going to keep that success up, Tocchet said, he has to "get his nose to the net."

"When (Tanguay) is struggling, he's playing really perimeter hockey," Tocchet said. "He's got to get in there. But it's not just him. It's other guys."

Case in point: All three regulation goals in Thursday's shootout win against Minnesota came from in front of the net.

Odds and ends: C Ryan Craig played Saturday, with LW Todd Fedoruk scratched along with Walker. D Kurtis Foster played in Walker's place. D Matt Smaby was also scratched.

Defenseman David Hale pleasant surprise for Tampa Bay Lightning 11/14/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 15, 2009 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.