TAMPA — Chris Gratton said he believes the Lightning hoped he would retire in December or not report to AHL Norfolk so he could be suspended and not paid his $1.25 million salary.
"That's not too hard to figure out," said the Blue Jackets center, adding, "It's the business side."
Instead, Gratton, who had just two assists in 18 games with Tampa Bay, said he went to Norfolk with "a positive attitude." Columbus on Feb. 21 claimed him and half his remaining salary responsibility off re-entry waivers.
Gratton, 33, a healthy scratch Tuesday, has one assist in six games with the Blue Jackets and has been scratched eight times.
Of his time with the Admirals, Gratton said, "I couldn't have asked for better teammates," and called coach Darren Rumble and staff "unbelievable."
As for how his third stint with the Lightning ended, he said, "I was disappointed … If I was going to go out, I was going to go on my terms, not forced into it."
ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay is 5-16 in all overtime games. "We didn't want to go to a shootout," coach Rick Tocchet said of the tiebreaker in which it is 3-10. … F Paul Szczechura (lower body) and D Marek Malik (ankle) were scratched. … Columbus LW and former Lightning Fredrik Modin (knee) did not make the trip.