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Lightning coach Melrose clears the air with players at meeting

Lightning coach Barry Melrose, talking during a preseason game, says he will periodically have an assistant run practice.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning coach Barry Melrose, talking during a preseason game, says he will periodically have an assistant run practice.

SUNRISE — Coach Barry Melrose called his meeting with players before Tuesday's practice "an airing from my point of view."

Several topics were on the table, he said, from giving consistent effort to bad first periods against the Flyers and Capitals.

"It wasn't a meeting to embarrass people," he said Wednesday. "It was a meeting (to say), 'This is where I see us after 14 games.' These are the guys I think are buying into what I'm selling. These are the guys who have got to buy into what I'm selling."

"I'm an easy guy to play for," Melrose added. "I'm not a big rules guy. I don't think integrity needs rules. I just ask them to come and compete every night. When we do that, we're an excellent hockey club. When we try to do it for 20 minutes, when we try to do it for 40 minutes, it costs you. … And that's not acceptable."

As for skipping Tuesday's practice and handing it to associate coach Rick Tocchet, Melrose said it is something he will do periodically through the season to give each side a break from the other.

He also joked G Mike Smith's quote from Tuesday that, "He didn't want to see us today and we probably didn't want to see him" was, in fact, what Melrose told the players in the meeting.

"That's brutal," Melrose laughed, "a goalie is stealing my lines."

Seriously, though, Melrose said, "It was good for them to get another voice in practice. I've been with these guys every day. … It was good for them to practice without hearing my voice."

GOT RUBBER?: Tampa Bay entered Wednesday leading the league with an average 35.8 shots against. And including Wednesday's, it has allowed at least 30 shots in a league-high 14 games.

"I've never seen a stretch where we've given up as many shots as we have," Tocchet said.

"Guys have to step up and say, 'I have to sacrifice certain parts of my game to play defense.' "

MASK AUCTION: The Saw V mask worn by G Olie Kolzig brought in $4,900 in an online auction that ended Wednesday. Proceeds benefited Athletes Against Autism. Combined with Smith's mask, which benefited the Lightning Foundation, $9,200 was raised.

FOOD DRIVE: Donations of non-perishable and canned goods to Metropolitan Ministries can be made at the St. Pete Times Forum's Chrysler/Jeep Plaza before today's game with Detroit and Nov. 21 game with Nashville.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Chris Gratton won 7 of 8 faceoffs. C Jussi Jokinen won 10 of 14. ... RW Evgeny Artyukhin (groin) was in the lineup after missing two games. … LW Ryan Malone (leg) and W Matt Pettinger were scratched.

Lightning coach Melrose clears the air with players at meeting 11/12/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 13, 2008 12:07pm]

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