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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman says league needs more involvement from Pittsburgh Penguins' Mario Lemieux

TAMPA — Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is urging Penguins owner Mario Lemieux to get more involved in league affairs.

The request came after Lemieux was critical of the league's handling of Friday's fight-filled game between the Penguins and Islanders that resulted in 10 ejections and 346 penalty minutes.

Lemieux called the game "a travesty" and said the league did not send a harsh enough message by fining New York $100,000 and suspending Trevor Gillies (nine) and Matt Martin (four) a combined 13 games.

Lemieux also said he might "rethink" whether he wants to be part of the league.

But Yzerman on Tuesday said rather than pulling out, Lemieux should engage.

"He's a Hall of Fame player, one of the best of all time," Yzerman said. "He's a bright guy, and he's also the owner of a team. He's got a lot to offer.

"When we go to board meetings and league meetings when a lot of these hot topics are discussed, I think it would benefit the league as a whole and benefit the Pittsburgh Penguins for Mario to be there and weigh in and discuss it."

Yzerman said Lemieux's perspective would be "unique."

"There's only one person like him in the league right now," Yzerman said, "a former player who owns a team."

SMABY DOWN, VErNACE UP: The Lightning, already without D Mike Lundin (abdomen), hastily called up D Mike Vernace from AHL Norfolk after D Matt Smaby took ill Monday night and, said coach Guy Boucher, "was still puking" at 8:30 Tuesday morning.

Vernace, who began the season with Tampa Bay, has six goals and 20 points in 45 games with the Admirals. He had zero points in his first eight games with the Lightning. Tuesday, he got his first NHL point with a secondary assist on Teddy Purcell's goal against the Flyers that tied the score 3-3.

CLOSER: C Nate Thompson missed his third game with concussionlike symptoms, though the penalty-kill specialist likely will play Thursday against the Red Wings, Boucher said.

"If we had one more day, he probably would be ready," Boucher said. "But we don't want to take a chance. He's too important to our team to get him in one game and lose him for 20."

Boucher said that perspective is different from when he began coaching: "I didn't want to hear guys were hurt," he said. "As you go along, you figure out the one game you get (from an injured player), you lose a lot more."

NEW ADDITION: LW Simon Gagne and wife Karine welcomed daughter Lily Rose, 6 pounds, 13 ounces, at 7:39 a.m. Monday at Tampa General Hospital. She is the couple's second child. Matthew is 1.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning had won nine straight overtime/shootout decisions. … C Vinny Lecavalier has goals in four straight games for the first time since Jan. 30-Feb. 6, 2007. … RW Adam Hall's assist on Dominic Moore's goal was his first point in 14 games. … Doesn't sound as if W Ryan Malone (stomach) is making much progress. "By what I see now, we can give him a wheelchair and it would help," Boucher said. "He's having trouble walking." … LW Mattias Ritola has four assists in his first three games with Norfolk.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman says league needs more involvement from Pittsburgh Penguins' Mario Lemieux 02/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:30am]
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