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Lightning's Boyle to decide today about waiving no-trade clause

In the end, Dan Boyle decided to sleep on it.

The Lightning defenseman, asked Thursday by the team to waive his no-trade clause, will make a decision today, agent George Bazos said.

"We've all been in communication, and everybody understands everybody's position," Bazos said. "Dan is going to think about things, and discussions will continue further to find the best option for Dan."

The statement capped an astounding 48 hours in which Bazos asserted he was told Tuesday by the Lightning it would not move his client and Boyle, one of the league's best puck-moving defensemen, confirmed he was asked to accept a trade.

"We're working with Dan trying to make this work for both sides," owner Len Barrie said. "The tough side of hockey is the business side. Dan has been a great player for the organization, but we have to make tough decisions. The good news for Dan is he has an opportunity to get into some great positions."

Whatever the decision, Boyle said the past few days, full of speculation and unconfirmed gossip, have been "pretty tough."

Boyle, who turns 32 on July 12, said he signed a six-year, $40-million deal in February to stay with the franchise. He said he was looking forward to redeeming himself after a season in which the team finished last and severe wrist injuries made it difficult for him to hold his stick in all but "a handful of games."

"I signed that deal to stay in Tampa," Boyle said. "It's not about the money all the time. I'm a pretty loyal guy. I'm a Tampa guy. That's who helped me turn my career around and gave me a real chance and a real opportunity. That's where I want to be."

But the contract that pays $6.667-million annually and expires when Boyle is 38 apparently is too long for ownership's liking and too expensive for a team over the $56.7-million salary cap.

Boyle seemed torn, at first saying, "There's not enough loyalty in this league," but also acknowledging the game is a business.

The Sharks, who lost Brian Campbell to free agency, seemingly lead the business of acquiring Boyle. The Canucks and Thrashers also are believed involved. It appears Boyle's hometown team, the Senators, is out of the running, though that could not be confirmed.

Boyle could still enforce his no-trade clause, but that could be dangerous as the Lightning might later put him on waivers and open him up to the entire league. Better, it would seem, to have some control over a destination.

Boyle said the situation is regretful.

The Ottawa native, acquired in January 2002 for a fifth-round draft pick, turned into one of the league's most dangerous blue-line scorers and in 2004 helped Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup.

"I like to think I played a part in turning this thing around," he said. "I'm proud of what I accomplished here."

SALE IS FINAL: The Lightning is under new ownership. Spokesman Bill Wickett said the $200-million purchase of the team, St. Pete Times Forum lease and 51/2 acres near the Tampa arena by OK Hockey from Palace Sports & Entertainment has closed.

MINOR SIGNINGS: Three unrestricted free agents were signed in an attempt to bolster AHL Norfolk: tough guy David Koci, who spent time last season with the Admirals and had 68 penalty minutes in 18 games with the Blackhawks; center Wyatt Smith, who had three assists in 25 games with the Avalanche; and defenseman Scott Jackson, who played 58 games with WHL Seattle.

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

Lightning's Boyle to decide today about waiving no-trade clause 07/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 4, 2008 1:22pm]
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