SAN JOSE, Calif. — Time hasn't diminished the animosity Sharks and former Lightning D Dan Boyle feels for former Tampa Bay owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie.
Boyle on Saturday called them "poison" while also expressing happiness the organization seems headed in the right direction under new owner Jeff Vinik and GM Steve Yzerman.
"They got rid of the poison at the top," Boyle said. "That's what they were. Those guys were poison, so I'm thrilled. I'm happy for the city. I still have a place back there, and my folks are down there all the time. I couldn't be happier for the organization and the people back there that they've turned it around."
Boyle, part of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup team, was signed to a six-year, $40 million deal by Tampa Bay in February 2008. On July 4, Koules and Barrie, who had taken over the team weeks earlier, traded Boyle to the Sharks after threatening to ship him to the minors if he did not waive his no-trade clause.
The trade has been good for Boyle, who has become what Sharks coach Todd McLellan called an essential leader.
"He plays with his heart on his sleeve," McLellan said.
Boyle, 34, lives in San Jose with wife Amber and daughters Easton, 2, and Wesley, 2 months, but he said he always will have a soft spot for the Lightning.
"The only problem I had with Tampa was the two owners," he said. "That's it. I'll always be part of that city and that team. I'm just so happy those guys (Koules and Barrie) are gone. Those guys were poison."
CLOSE YET FAR: Sharks G Antero Niittymaki said he was close last summer to re-signing with the Lightning but could not say why he didn't.
"You should ask Mr. Yzerman," he said.
No need. Niittymaki got $2 million in a one-year, free-agent deal from San Jose. The Lightning signed Dan Ellis for two years at $1.5 million per season.
PASSING GRADE: Back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday were a first for D Mattias Ohlund since recovering from right knee swelling.
"I feel stronger every day," he said. "I feel pretty positive with the way it's going the last week."
BAD TIMING: You have to feel bad for D Victor Hedman, who missed Thursday's game with the Kings with his uncle Thomas and aunt Asa in the stands.
The couple, in the United States on business, extended the trip to see Hedman play in the NHL for the first time. But Hedman was out with a right-foot bruise, and Thomas and Asa went back to Sweden on Friday.
"I wanted to play so badly," Hedman said. "Too bad it didn't work out, but they had a blast seeing everything going on around the game."
HIGH PRAISE: "He's one of the dominant, if not the dominant goal scorer in the league," McLellan said of Lightning C Steven Stamkos.
ODDS AND ENDS: LW Ryan Malone is back on the first power play unit in place of RW Teddy Purcell. … The Sharks were without captain Joe Thornton, serving a two-game suspension for a head shot. (More, 7C).