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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet backs Marty St. Louis' blast

“I’m not pointing fingers,” Marty St. Louis said. “I’m just saying we need more out of some guys. We need more desperation. We need guys who want to make a difference.”

DIRK SHADD | Times

“I’m not pointing fingers,” Marty St. Louis said. “I’m just saying we need more out of some guys. We need more desperation. We need guys who want to make a difference.”

PITTSBURGH — If Marty St. Louis was worried about alienating teammates with his harsh comments after Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Thrashers, he did not admit it.

In fact, the Lightning right wing reiterated his basic message Sunday and got backing from coach Rick Tocchet.

"I'm not pointing fingers," St. Louis said. "I'm just saying we need more out of some guys. We need more desperation. We need guys who want to make a difference."

That was the G-rated version of a rant in which St. Louis called unnamed players "clock killers," and added, "I don't think there are enough guys who really want to win."

However it was delivered, Tocchet said, "That's a winning comment. You're either on board or get lost, simple as that. I back what he said."

Tocchet did not play favorites during a grueling day at Mellon Arena.

A 45-minute punishment skate was so tough, trainer Tommy Mulligan checked rookie Steven Stamkos, who was woozy and nauseous and needed a five-minute break on the bench before continuing.

Next: a two-hour closed-door session that included video of Saturday's loss against a team that had won three of its previous 16 games and upped Tampa Bay's skid to 3-13-6.

Players carried the dialogue, Tocchet said. There also were meetings between players and with coaches.

Specific tools for specific purposes, Tocchet said.

"You have to find the depths of your soul," he said of the punishment skate that had players cringing in thigh-throbbing, lung-burning pain.

"I have to find out from this group, do they really, truly care? Do they want to belong on this team? (Punishment) skates ask those questions. You go to your hotel room and you're tired and ask, 'Why did I get skated?'

"The winners will say, 'It's because I didn't play good.' Guys you don't want on your team will say, 'It's not my fault.' It's attitude you're looking for. I want to test the depths of these guys."

As for the meetings, Tocchet said, "You're not going to get anything accomplished by guys being quiet. Guys have to get things off their chest. If you have problems with other guys on the team, I want you to say it."

Exactly what St. Louis did Saturday.

"I wear my heart on my sleeve," he said. "You reach a boiling point, and it's frustrating."

"He wants to make guys accountable," defenseman Steve Eminger said. "It's pretty simple watching us and seeing the urgency and the details that aren't there. And if you're one of those guys you might think he's referring to, you've got to look at yourself and say, 'I've got to change things.' "

And follow St. Louis' example, Tocchet said of the alternate captain who has seven goals in his past eight games.

"When you watch the (Saturday) video … he was on the puck all night. He took hits to make plays. He truly cares. I don't think anybody has the nerve to say Marty was wrong. Not if I'm in that room. No way."

NOTES: Goalie Karri Ramo was recalled from AHL Norfolk after Olie Kolzig (upper body) returned to Tampa. … Goalie Riku Helenius was assigned to Norfolk from ECHL Mississippi.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristoder@sptimes.com.

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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet backs Marty St. Louis' blast 12/21/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 4:44pm]
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