Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Lightning defenseman Malik hopes to debut Tuesday

Stick work: Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger battles for the puck during his first game since right shoulder surgery.


Stick work: Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger battles for the puck during his first game since right shoulder surgery.

TAMPA — The first thing coach Barry Melrose said he noticed about Marek Malik is, "He's big, and he's got a good reach."

The remark brought a chuckle because it was so obvious. Malik is 6 feet 6, 235 pounds. The defenseman on Thursday skated for the first time with Tampa Bay on a timetable Melrose said could have him in a game by Tuesday against the Thrashers.

"That's my goal right now," Mel­rose said.

Malik, 33, a free agent, will sign a contract when he is ready to play, vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said.

Malik said he has been skating "five or six times a week" in his native Czech Republic and believes he needs five to seven days to be ready.

He said he chose Tampa Bay over three or four other teams.

"Tampa Bay seemed like the best choice for me," Malik said. "I really liked what they did with the team in the summer."

"With my age and the situation what it was, I didn't want to choose something just to get signed," he added. "I wanted something that was good for me and where I could help the team; plus, also, if the team is going to have a good chance to make the playoffs."

Melrose just hopes Malik helps stabilizes what has been a helter-skelter blue line.

"He's a big body, good defensively, takes up a lot of room," Melrose said. "He takes away time and space and is a good penalty-killer."

HEWARD SITS: He has been one of the team's most consistent, if not spectacular, defensemen, but Jamie Heward was scratched against the Islanders to make room for Paul Ranger.

Melrose said it came down to Janne Niskala being a better skater.

"If Jamie was a better skater, Jamie would have played 15, 20 years in the NHL, playing 20 minutes a night. That's how solid a defenseman he is," Melrose said. "Jamie has been great. I told him be prepared every night, and we'll handle it from there."

HI, MOM: Niskala called his first goal, which came Saturday against the Hurricanes in his third NHL game, "a big thing."

Niskala said he doesn't yet have a special place picked out for the puck. On second thought, he said, "I'll send it to my mom."

ODDS AND ENDS: The only other time Tampa Bay began a season with four one-goal games was 2006-07 (1-3). … Steven Stamkos, again a victim of so much penalty-kill time, played just 9:22. Melrose said of the rookie, who has zero points, "I hope people will cut him some slack." … D Lukas Krajicek got his first Lightning point. … D Andrej Meszaros had two assists. ... Forwards Jason Ward, David Koci and Ryan Craig (groin) were scratched.

New Lightning defenseman Malik hopes to debut Tuesday 10/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2008 3:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Zim's legacy felt on bunt play



  2. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  3. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.