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Tampa Bay Lightning: Owner Koules see first win through mysterious connection

Defenseman Marek Malik signs a contract with the Lightning for $1.25-million, prorated to the start of the season.

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Defenseman Marek Malik signs a contract with the Lightning for $1.25-million, prorated to the start of the season.

TAMPA — Oren Koules was in Los Angeles on Tuesday, when the Lightning made him a winner for the first time as an owner.

"It killed me that I wasn't there," he said.

The game wasn't televised, either. But the Hollywood producer still saw the 3-2 overtime victory over the Thrashers at the St. Pete Times Forum thanks to a mysterious Internet hookup into his home laptop.

"The worst feed you've ever seen," said Koules, who watched, with wife Shereen Arazm, "this little 4-inch by 4-inch, slow, herky-jerky feed. It looked like a 1995 Internet connection."

Koules could not precisely explain how he was connected, and the Lightning had no further information.

While they watched, a car waited to take them to the premiere at Mann's Chinese Theatre of Saw V, the latest in the movie series Koules produces with partner and minority Lightning owner Mark Burg.

Koules said the game ended at about 7 p.m. in L.A. Fifteen minutes later, he and Arazm were at the theater.

When Burg introduced Koules to what he said was about 800 family and friends, he mentioned the big win, Koules said.

"They all went crazy," he said. "It was a wild night."

MALIK SIGNS: The Lightning on Thursday finally signed Marek Malik to a one-year contract for $1.25-million, prorated to the start of the season. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound defenseman is expected to play Saturday against the Sharks at the Times Forum.

"It was a long time," Malik said of the seven-day conditioning program Tampa Bay used to prepare him to play. "I can't wait to do something other than practice."

Malik, 33 and a 12-year veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Rangers, said he will keep his first game simple. He said the most difficult things will be regaining his game-speed timing and chemistry with teammates. He said he will be vocal on the ice to "help each other out as much as possible."

"We skated him hard for a week. We have to find out if he can play," coach Barry Melrose said.

"We think he can give us something we don't have, and that's a big, strong, physical body down below the goal line and below the hash marks, which is important against teams like San Jose, which has big forwards who attack the net."

QUOTE MACHINE: Melrose on winning: "Every cigar tastes like a Cuban after you win. Every cigar tastes like a Honduran after a loss, which is still good, but not quite like a Cuban."

On losing: "One of my jobs is, you have to make life hell after a loss. Losing has to be a very hated thing. The players have to feel that way. It can't be a good place after a loss."

INJURY/ROSTER REPORT: Tampa Bay's roster is at the 23-player limit with F Ryan Craig on injured reserve. … Melrose did not reveal which defenseman will be scratched Saturday to make room for Malik. … Melrose said RW Radim Vrbata is out of Saturday's game because of an injury sustained Wednesday. Vrbata said it was a groin that is "a little tight." Newly acquired Matt Pettinger or Jason Ward will play. … Craig did not practice Thursday because of what Melrose called a "setback" from a groin injury. Craig said the team is being careful to "make sure (the injury) is not going to be long term."

ODDS AND ENDS: Fans are encouraged to wear pink Saturday for Pink Out Night, which honors breast cancer survivors, and to donate $1 to fund breast cancer research at Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. … Flu shots will be available before the game on the Chrysler/Jeep plaza and during the game behind section 104. The cost is $25. Fans getting them before the game will receive a voucher that can be used to buy a game ticket at the box office for as low as $10.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Owner Koules see first win through mysterious connection 10/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 24, 2008 6:15pm]

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