TAMPA — Len Barrie said he believes some around the league do not want him and fellow owner Oren Koules to succeed.
"Oh, for sure," Barrie said Friday. "We're the new kids on the block, absolutely. … It's been an old-boys club for a long time."
"I don't think it's not succeeding," Koules said. "Owners always want teams to succeed to have a healthy league. I just think we're doing things different, and people don't like anything different."
Koules, 47, and Barrie, 39, were aggressive acquiring negotiating rights to players and signing them before they became free agents. They spent $194.3-million on new one-way contracts and signed players long term.
Koules said that provides cost certainty and hedges against what has been a rising salary cap, though some may find the practice inflationary. His example: unproven G Mike Smith's two-year, $4.4-million extension.
"We gambled," Koules said. "We made the decision to tie him up when a lot of guys wouldn't have done that. They think we're spending money foolishly. So if someone is spending money foolishly, then you're raising the price of all players."
The gamble is worth it, he said: "Mike Smith would have been an unrestricted free agent next year. If he comes out 10-2, all of a sudden we have a gun to our head."
"I think sometimes when you come in and do things differently, not everyone is happy for success, not just in hockey but in other avenues," Barrie said. "Our record will speak for itself. … I still stand by it. We'll win our division, and with our team, that should be our goal."
FIGHT CARD: Black and White tied 2-2 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Segal scored for White, Brandon Bochenski and Evgeny Artyukhin for Black. The fights: D Andy Rogers vs. C Chris Lawrence, D Shane O'Brien vs. D Vladimir Mihalik and C Zenon Konopka vs. LW Radek Smolenak. That's five fights, three for Konopka, in two scrimmages.
"The intensity level was much better," coach Barry Melrose said. "And when I say intensity, I'm not talking about fighting. It's the competitiveness, and the competitiveness leads to fighting. If no one is competing, no one cares, no one gets angry, and it's a lovefest. But when guys are trying to win jobs, other guys get angry, and that results in fights."
MELROSE REPORT: He gave high marks to the defense, especially Mihalik, Matt Smaby and Ty Wishart. ... C Dana Tyrell, between Marty St. Louis and Vinny Prospal, was "great," and he liked the stepped-up contact and battling for pucks among forwards, especially 6-foot-5, 254-pound Artyukhin. "He started grasping the word 'power' in front of 'forward.' " … Melrose was behind the bench instead of in the stands, as he was Thursday. "I basically know the 25 guys who are going to be fighting for spots. I want to get down there and see how they are on the bench and start coaching."