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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Boucher says prospects camp is for learning

EULOGY FOR A FRIEND: Lightning GM Steve Yzerman talks to reporters after speaking at the funeral of former Red Wings teammate Bob Probert in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday.

Associated Press

EULOGY FOR A FRIEND: Lightning GM Steve Yzerman talks to reporters after speaking at the funeral of former Red Wings teammate Bob Probert in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday.

The message from Lightning coach Guy Boucher to the 32 prospects attending the team's development camp at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa is that they are not on trial.

This is a time to learn. Impressing the staff, well, that's always good but is not imperative.

"This is not a training camp," Boucher said. "It's not a week where they have to show us what they can do. It's a week to learn some skills they haven't seen or haven't seen enough of.

"The whole week is aimed at giving them some tools, on-ice tools and off-ice, to figure out that the pro level is a different level than they have been playing at."

The five-day camp, featuring 2010 first-round draft choice Brett Connolly, begins today with practices at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. It wraps up with a "Young Guns" game at 6 p.m. Wednesday. All practices are free and open to the public. Get a schedule, rosters and details at tampabay.com/lightning/blogs.

The camp's timing is bad for Boucher. He will miss most of it because he is moving his family to the Tampa area and must help pack up their house in Hamilton, Ontario. AHL Norfolk coach Jim Johnson, Lightning goaltenders coach Cap Raeder, video coach Nigel Kirwan and skating instructor Barry Karn will be on the ice. Boucher said he will try to be at Wednesday's game and knows the players are in good hands.

"They've done a terrific job of putting the camp together, so I didn't want to barge in and start changing things," Boucher said. "I'll just be an observer.

"Everything is set up for (the players) to learn. And they've got the freedom to make mistakes."

NEW ADDITION: Zane Kalemba, 24, who in four seasons at Princeton was 57-44-5 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .912 save percentage, was added to the camp as an invitee. He was Ivy League player of the year in 2008-09.

YZERMAN ON PROBERT: GM Steve Yzerman said the public did not know the real Bob Probert, his former Red Wings linemate who died Monday at 45. Turns out, one of the most feared enforcers in NHL history was "a kind-hearted guy."

"Hockey fans all know him as this tough, rugged, brawling player," said Yzerman, who Friday gave the eulogy at Probert's funeral in Windsor, Ontario. "But he was really witty. He always cracked jokes to make people feel good."

Some playfully suggested that Yzerman grew taller when Probert, fifth all time with 3,300 penalty minutes, was on the ice.

"I don't know that I grew, but he certainly kept everybody honest," Yzerman said. "Everybody, for the most part, stuck to hockey when Proby was on the ice."

FEASTER'S NOD: Former Lightning GM Jay Feaster, hired Thursday as the Flames' assistant general manager, said he always will have a special place in his heart for Tampa Bay, which he led to the 2004 Stanley Cup title. And he is keeping his Tampa-area home. Feaster praised the hiring of Yzerman ("a shot of instant credibility") and Boucher, and predicted "good things are going to happen" for the Lightning.

Flyers: After playing one season in Russia, forward Nikolai Zherdev agreed to a one-year contract that CSN Philly said is worth $2 million. He played four seasons for the Blue Jackets and one with the Rangers before going to the KHL last year.

Sharks: The team signed Blackhawks restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14 million offer, throwing an unexpected wrench into Chicago's ongoing effort to get under the salary cap for next season. Teams rarely go after others' restricted free agents. The Blackhawks have seven days to match the offer, which Canadian TV network TSN said would increase Hjalmarsson's cap hit from $600,000 to $3.5 million annually. If the Stanley Cup champions choose not to match the offer from the team it swept in the Western Conference final, they will receive San Jose's first- and third-round picks in next year's draft as compensation.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Boucher says prospects camp is for learning 07/09/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 10, 2010 12:50pm]

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