BRANDON — Vinny Lecavalier still believes he will be ready for the regular-season opener Oct. 4 against the Rangers. The preseason is another story.
Though Lecavalier said nothing has been determined, there is a chance the All-Star center, in his fifth month of rehab after arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn glenoid labrum, may not play in the Lightning's four preseason games before leaving for Europe.
"My goal is to play the last two games," Lecavalier said of exhibitions against Eisbaren Berlin in Germany and HC Slovan in Slovakia.
"We'll see before that," he added. "I can't predict how it's going to feel."
Lecavalier, 28, took several slap shots and wrist shots after Thursday's workout with teammates at the Ice Sports Forum. He said he actually was testing new sticks and not necessarily his shoulder, but it was a good experiment.
"I just started again this week and it feels pretty good for wristers and slap shots," he said. "It's mostly when the puck is far away from me, reaching, it feels a little weak."
Lecavalier said that is a matter of restrengthening the shoulder. More important, he said, "I need to get my confidence when I can bump into guys."
He joked he may wear a "yellow jersey" to avoid contact during next week's training camp scrimmages. He said he likely will not be cleared for contact before speaking to James Andrews, the orthopedist who performed the surgery, some time before the European trip that ends with two regular-season games against New York.
"I would like to," Lecavalier said of playing before the trip. "We'll see how I feel."
CAPTAIN VINNY: Coach Barry Melrose said Lecavalier would be "the perfect captain." But Melrose also said he wants to see Lecavalier during training camp before making a final decision.
"I've got some time I want to spend with him," Melrose said. "Just because you're the best player doesn't necessarily mean you're a leader. But I've been very impressed with him. I think Vinny is really maturing into that leadership role."
Told that No. 1 draft choice Steven Stamkos gushed about being asked to dinner by Lecavalier after his first skate with the team, Melrose said, "I would have been disappointed with Vinny if he wouldn't have done that.''
MINDING TORTS' BUSINESS: Former Lightning coach John Tortorella said he is at loose ends without a training camp for which to prepare.
"I'm out of my mind already because I'm not preparing the team," he said. "That's all I know how to do. That's all I want to do is prepare a hockey team."
Tortorella, fired in June, interviewed for three coaching jobs but could not find a fit. He was hired as a studio analyst for Canada's TSN. His contract allows him to pursue coaching jobs that open during the season.
“I want to coach again, no question about it," he said. "This gives me an opportunity to stay close to the game. I think I'll learn more about the league doing it this way, and it will keep my straight as far as personnel."
DIFFERENT STYLES: Training camp opens Tuesday with off-ice fitness testing and a one-hour practice. Asked if he would miss the two days of on-ice testing and 3-mile run that kicked off Tortorella's camps, defenseman Shane O'Brien laughed, "Not at all."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]