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From trades to mullets, fans ready for answers

TAMPA — The Lightning's town hall meeting Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum was the fans' chance to ask anything.

They were ready.

Questions from a crowd of about 500 ranged from player personnel issues to whether the team might have a mullet night to honor the hairstyle coach Barry Melrose helped make famous back in the day.

There was a demand, met by cheers, that Melrose explain what fans consider pro-Flames comments he made as an ESPN analyst during the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

And superstar center Vinny Lecavalier was asked about plans to perhaps one day have kids.

"It was great," owner Oren Koules said. "We want to be accessible to our fans. We're going to do more things like this."

"They did a great thing by having this," said Henri Pregaldin, 47, of Treasure Island. "Just having a little access to people and fielding some tough questions."

Pregaldin twice prodded Koules and owner Len Barrie to talk about defenseman Dan Boyle's accusations he was disrespected by the team in the process of being traded to the Sharks.

"Like anything in life, there are two sides to every story," Koules said. "To make our team better now and in the future, we felt it was a move we had to make."

"We decided," Barrie said, "to go with a younger defense and load up at forward."

Pregaldin said he didn't believe either answered his question. Still, he said, "They did a great job. Just the idea they were willing to come, sit and take questions like this."

The day began with season-ticket holders watching Lecavalier formalize his 11-year, $85-million contract extension. About 400 lined up for autographs.

"When I started in the NHL, I considered Montreal my home," Lecavalier said. "Now, 10 years later, I consider Tampa my home, also."

Melrose, on his 52nd birthday, turned the doubters when he spoke about Lecavalier fighting Jarome Iginla during the Cup final.

"That's probably when Vinny became a greater player in my eyes than I've seen him before," Melrose said.

Melrose said he liked the idea of a mullet night. Koules, the Hollywood producer responsible for the grisly Saw movies, joked he wants goalie Mike Smith to wear a mask with a saw design.

Oh, and about Vinny's plans for what the questioner called "mini-Vinnies?" That, he said, is a topic for another time.

From trades to mullets, fans ready for answers 07/15/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 7:45am]
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