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Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier says knee 'feels better' each day since surgery

Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier skates at Brandon’s Ice Sports Forum on Tuesday, his third such session after minor knee surgery Aug. 24.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier skates at Brandon’s Ice Sports Forum on Tuesday, his third such session after minor knee surgery Aug. 24.

BRANDON — Vinny Lecavalier admitted his left knee is "not 100 percent."

But the Lightning captain, coming off arthroscopic surgery Aug. 24 to clean out two pieces of floating cartilage, said it is just a matter of time.

"It feels better every day," Lecavalier said after Tuesday's skate at the Ice Sports Forum. "It's a little sore, but it's the best it's felt. I can do pretty much anything practicewise."

Lecavalier said he has skated three times since the surgery, including Friday and Monday in his native Montreal. He worked solo for 45 minutes Tuesday. He did not play in his teammates' pickup game.

The center hit the gym instead, the continuation of a schedule that head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said included three treatment sessions each day during the week after surgery. "It's as hard as I've seen him work since I've been with him," Mulligan said.

Lecavalier, 30, said the knee began bothering him during a February game in Atlanta when he fell awkwardly after being hit. It felt better during summer down time but flared in July when he resumed skating.

Lecavalier said he will be ready for training camp. Players report Sept. 17.

"What limits me is more the swelling," he said. "When there's swelling, you don't have as much strength in the knee or the (quadriceps muscle). Strengthwise, when I come out of the corners, that jump I usually have is slow."

UNPROVEN STAMKOS: It was strange to hear C Steven Stamkos say he must prove himself to new coach Guy Boucher and his staff. Stamkos' 51 goals last season tied Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the league lead.

Even so, Stamkos said he needs to set a base line: "To a certain extent, the coaching staff is very knowledgeable about what the players have done and what they're capable of," he said. "But they don't know the little things. They don't know your work ethic, your practice habits. You want to show you're coming out to work hard every day and you want to be out there in all situations. That's the kind of impression you want to make."

STAFF ADDITION: Frantz Jean was named goaltending consultant. That he is not called a coach is simply a "contractual formality," team spokesman Bill Wickett said.

For the past 12 seasons, Jean, 39, was goaltenders coach for Moncton of the Quebec junior league. For the past two, he was goalie coach for Canada's under-18 national team. Jean will work with "all the goaltenders in the organization," the team said in a release. He takes over for fired Cap Raeder.

TRAINING CAMP: Players will report at the St. Pete Times Forum for off-ice testing. Scrimmages that are free and open to the public are Sept. 18-20 at the Ice Sports Forum. No times have been announced.

ODDS AND ENDS: RW Steve Downie, who Aug. 25 signed a two-year, $3.7 million contract, said the perceived slow pace of negotiations did not bother him. "There were a lot of things ahead of me, and I knew that," he said. "The talks we had with (GM Steve Yzerman) were great. I was confident we were going to get something done." … D Mattias Ohlund and wife Linda had their third child, a girl, Stella, in July. … The Red Wings' eight-team prospects camp, which includes the Lightning, begins Saturday in Traverse City, Mich. … Fourteen Tampa Bay players skated Tuesday, as did Senators D Filip Kuba, a former Lightning who kept his bay area home.

Around the league

Canadiens: Former Lightning C Jeff Halpern signed a one-year, $600,000 contract. Halpern, 34, was traded by Tampa Bay in March to the Kings for LW Teddy Purcell and a 2010 third-round draft pick.

Wild: C James Sheppard, who signed a one-year, $803,250 contract in June, broke his left kneecap in an ATV accident in Vail, Colo., on Saturday and is out three to four months, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier says knee 'feels better' each day since surgery 09/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 7:46am]
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