Before new Lightning goalie Anders Lindback knew what Still's disease was — and how to treat it — it was an unsettling and sometimes scary thing.
The rare arthritic condition causes fevers, inflammation, muscle aches and joint pain and occurs in fewer than 1 in 100,000 adults a year. But while Lindback, 24, was diagnosed five years ago, daily medication has kept it under control, and it doesn't impact him on the ice.
"It took so long for them to figure it out since it's such a rare disease," Lindback said Saturday from his native Sweden. "But once we found the medication, it's been all good and I haven't been sick since. It's just part of me. Taking the meds is a daily part of my life, like brushing my teeth."
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman did research and said the disease was "not a concern" when the Lightning acquired Lindback from the Predators on Friday to compete for the No. 1 goalie spot. Lindback, 6 feet 6, doesn't back down from a challenge, and is embracing the "dream" opportunity after two seasons as a backup to Pekka Rinne, one of the league's best.
"I haven't been a starter in the NHL, so I can't just anticipate I'm just going to come in and play," said Lindback, acquired with center Kyle Wilson and a 2012 seventh-round pick for two '12 second-round picks, a '13 third-rounder and goalie Sebastien Caron. "I've got to work hard and prove myself. My goal is I want to win and play games and win the (Stanley) Cup. That's why I play."
Lindback played 38 games over two seasons in Nashville with a 2.53 goals-against average and a 16-13-2 record. He'll battle with returning Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon, who was one of the first to send Lindback a text welcoming him to the club.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, Lindback's former teammate on Sweden's world junior team, believes his buddy has the talent and "killer instinct" to be a No. 1 goalie.
"He's a great goaltender," Hedman said. "He's a big guy with ability, he's a modern goalie. He's very fast, he's flexible, and his mobility is unbelievable. He's ready to come into Tampa, and get the opportunity. It's going to be a challenge for him, but he's ready for it."
• • •
Lindback was always a big kid. Just ask the players in the neighborhood games in his small hometown of Gavle.
He wouldn't remain contained between the pipes, often branching out to be a defenseman or even a forward.
"It was good for developing my stick-handling and skating and everything," Lindback said. "But I spent a lot of time in the penalty box, too. I was a little taller so I thought it'd be fun to run around and hit people. So it was time to stay in the net."
Through his career on Swedish junior teams and the Predators, Lindback has worked with several goalie coaches, which has helped him learn a variety of styles he has morphed together.
One of Lindback's biggest teachers was Rinne, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist who led the league in wins, saves and games last season, the first of a seven-year, $49 million deal. Lindback said it's "inspiring'' that Rinne, who is 6-5, plays so well at a similar size.
"Just from watching him in practice and playing everyday, it's been a huge impact on my game," Lindback said. "Though I haven't played that much (in the NHL), I feel I've developed my game a lot since I came over. I'm excited to take the next step."
The first step is for the Lightning to sign Lindback, a restricted free agent who made $875,000 last season. Lindback is optimistic they can reach a deal.
"Anders is obviously excited about the trade and the opportunity in Tampa Bay," agent Michael C. Deutsch said. "I'm sure that both sides will be working hard in the near future to get a contract completed."
Said Lindback: "I'm ready to go."
ANGELIDIS RE-SIGNS: The Lightning announced that it re-signed forward Mike Angelidis to a one-year, two-way contract. He had one goal — in his NHL debut — in six games with Tampa Bay last season. He had 14 goals in 51 games for AHL Norfolk and had 135 penalty minutes, second on the team. Angelidis, 26, had one goal and six points in 18 games during the AHL playoffs as the Admirals won the Calder Cup.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]