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Tampa Bay Lightning GM is disappointed team didn't rally behind Vinny Lecavalier

PITTSBURGH — General manager Brian Lawton scolded his players for failing to back up C Vinny Lecavalier on Tuesday after he fought Islanders tough guy Tim Jackman in defense of a teammate.

"I was extremely, extremely disappointed with our players," Lawton said Wednesday. "Vinny did the most noble thing he could do in his position outside of scoring, which is stand up for the team, and the team didn't respond for him. That was very hurtful, disappointing and upsetting."

Lawton wasn't looking for a Pier 6 brawl. But he expected a spark after Lecavalier went after Jackman, who in the first period got away without a penalty after running over G Karri Ramo.

Instead, the Islanders took control and outplayed Tampa Bay in a three-goal second.

"I was disappointed with the players' reactions not to respond," Lawton said. "Personally, it really hurt me. It hurt our fans. It hurt our coaches. It wasn't a good thing."

Neither was the way Jackman ran over Ramo, Lecavalier said: "I don't know if he meant to hit him, probably not. But he hit him pretty hard. … I think any time someone hits your goalie like that, whoever is there should do something, and it just happens I was the first guy there."

"I loved it," coach Rick Tocchet said. "The alarming part is that after your captain does that, your guys don't respond in a good way."

SMITH's RETURN: To make room on the roster for LW Gary Roberts, G Mike Smith (upper body) was put on injured reserve retroactive to Friday. Smith is eligible to play Saturday against the Islanders, and Lawton said he expects him in the lineup.

MESZAROS HURT: D Andrej Meszaros left Wednesday's game in the second period with what seemed a left arm injury after he was run over by Evgeni Malkin and landed on his left elbow.

"I don't think it's really, really bad," Tocchet said, "but he got popped pretty good."

Meszaros, 23, who still wears a cage to protect 64 stitches he needed to close wounds after being hit in the face Jan. 3 with a slap shot, has never missed game, playing 298 in a row.

GOODBYE, JUSSI: F Jussi Jokinen was on waivers, and it seems his days with the team are over.

Lawton said he spoke with a team interested in making a claim. If Jokinen clears at noon today, Lawton said he and his $1.875 million salary will be sent to AHL Norfolk.

Jokinen, 25, acquired in February from the Stars in the Brad Richards deal, had six goals in 16 games under then-coach Barry Melrose. He has zero in 30 games under Tocchet.

"He tried hard. He played hard," Lawton said. "I'd like to see him get another opportunity. We have a lot of players here, and it wasn't going to work out. … I like him as a guy, but this is a results-oriented business, and the results weren't there for him."

Jokinen, who left Mellon Arena with his laundry bag while the team met after a morning skate, declined comment.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning's 44 hits are a season high. … LW Adam Hall played his 400th NHL game. … Fs Matt Pettinger and Ryan Craig were scratched. … Penguins RW Miroslav Satan played his 1,000th game.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM is disappointed team didn't rally behind Vinny Lecavalier 02/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2009 7:48am]
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