Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Should future teammates avoid hurting one another?

TAMPA — Adam Erne was not suspended for his from-behind hit Friday that caused Jonathan Drouin's head to hit the side glass and might have caused a concussion.

But the idea of one Lightning prospect injuring another in a junior Quebec league game raised an interesting question: Is there a responsibility for players in the same organization — likely future teammates, in fact — to play each other more carefully?

Lightning players, for the most part, said the only responsibility is to play the game clean.

"When the game starts, you have no friends," LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie said Saturday. "You have to finish your hits. But if it's an illegal hit, it doesn't matter who it is, you can't do that."

The hit gained even more notice because Erne, a second-round draft pick this year who plays for Quebec, is on the United States' preliminary roster for this month's world junior championship. Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick this year who plays for Halifax, is supposed to play for Canada, though that is now in doubt.

"It's hard," Lightning D Mark Barberio said. "You go back to your junior team, yeah, you're representing the Lightning, but you're competing in a different league, and you start to fall in love with your junior team. It happens all the time when you're playing your friends. For those 60 minutes, it's game on."

But F Tom Pyatt said there is room for accommodation: "You want to play as hard as you can, but for me, if it was a guy I might be around for a few years, I might hold up a little."

As for Erne's hit on Drouin, Pyatt said, "It was from behind and unnecessary, I thought."

MEDICAL MATTERS: D Radko Gudas (upper body) and D Eric Brewer (lower body) played in Saturday's 2-1 OT loss to the Jets. … Labrie (left arm/elbow) said he believes he is ready to play. … D Keith Aulie, who had surgery Friday for a fractured left hand, is likely out two months, coach Jon Cooper said. Aulie said he knew his hand was in trouble when he hit Ottawa's Zack Smith on Thursday and felt the bone "snap like a toothpick."

NO PANIK ATTACK: Rookie RW Richard Panik was scratched for a second straight game with this explanation from Cooper: "He's just not playing the way we know he can play." Panik has just one goal and in six games before his scratch had just five shots on goal. "I just have to play hard every game," Panik said, "come to the rink and be ready to practice or work out." Said Cooper, "He's a big part of our team, and he's going to be a big part of our team. But right now he has to beat guys out, and he just hasn't yet."

ODDS AND ENDS: After winning its first six overtime/shootout games, Tampa Bay has lost two straight. … Blake Wheeler's regulation goal for the Jets was the 100th goal of his career. … The Lightning played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. … C Nate Thompson is brother-in-law to Winnipeg D Mark Stuart. … RW Marty St. Louis, with 939 career points, passed Jason Arnott for 91st all time. … St. Louis has a goal and six points in a six-game points streak against Winnipeg.

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