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Lightning gives goalie Smith contract extension

Lightning goaltender Mike Smith was 24-14-0 with a .909 save percentage for Dallas before arriving in Tampa Bay in the Brad Richards trade. With the Lightning, toward the end of last season, he was 3-10-0 and .893.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning goaltender Mike Smith was 24-14-0 with a .909 save percentage for Dallas before arriving in Tampa Bay in the Brad Richards trade. With the Lightning, toward the end of last season, he was 3-10-0 and .893.

Mike Smith admitted he was a bit unnerved when the Lightning signed free-agent goaltender Ollie Kolzig.

Smith figured he was the No. 1. All of a sudden, it seemed he had competition from a former Vezina Trophy winner.

Smith needn't have worried. Brian Lawton, vice president of hockey operations, said the No. 1 job "is Mike's to lose," and Smith on Monday signed a two-year, $4.4-million contract extension that will pay $2-million in 2009-10 and $2.4-million in 2010-11.

"We wanted to instill some confidence in him," Lawton said of the extension. "We made the decision very early on that Mike is our guy."

Smith, 26, said even without the contract he came to terms with Kolzig's presence.

"I'm at the point in my career where I've got to play well," said Smith, who will make $950,000 next season, the final year of his current deal. "If you don't play well, you're not going to play. It's as simple as that."

He said a No. 1 job "is not a gift. You have to prove that you're the guy. Hopefully, I can come to camp and do that."

Smith was 3-10-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average and an .893 save percentage in 13 games after being acquired from the Stars in the Brad Richards deal.

He promised to be "a more consistent goalie." He said learning from Kolzig "can only make me better" and, "I can't wait for camp to start."

As the No. 1.

"We wanted to eliminate any doubt where we stand," Lawton said. "We're behind him 1,000 percent and have a great veteran to work with him."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Lightning gives goalie Smith contract extension 07/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:33pm]
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