SUNRISE — When the Stars on Friday hired former Lightning Gary Roberts as a player development consultant, C Steven Stamkos wondered how the hiring would affect his offseason workout program.
Would the Stars allow Roberts to continue working with personal clients? And would the Lightning want its players working with an employee of another organization?
"It was the first thing that came to my mind," said Stamkos, who for the past two summers trained with Roberts.
Dallas spokesman Rob Scichili wrote in a text message Saturday that because Roberts is a consultant, "this Stars deal will not affect him doing side things with other players. He can continue to do so, if he likes."
And Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said, "Our guys came in in awesome shape. I want them in the best possible environment they can be, and if that's the best environment, I'm not worried about it."
"He taught me to act like a professional off ice, eating and living right, eating the right foods and drinking the right drinks," said RW Steve Downie, who also trains with Roberts. "He pushed us to our limits."
RITOLA IN: LW Mattias Ritola, claimed in September off waivers from the Red Wings, played his first game after spending three watching from the press box and studying video of the Lightning's system. "All over the ice — go, go, go," Ritola said. "I like it a lot."
Even so, coach Guy Boucher, who called Ritola's skill "tremendous," was not expecting much against the Panthers.
"As far as the collective part of things, he's going to have trouble," Boucher said. "He hasn't had a game with us. It took everybody else five games to figure out what to do, so he's going to be all over the place. … I want him to make mistakes, and make mistakes because he's going and not because he's holding back."
Ritola, with 12:14 of ice time and three shots, was one of five Tampa Bay players at minus-3.
ULTIMATE FOOTBALL: Lightning players use various games in arena hallways to warm up for practices and games, including variations of volleyball and soccer, and even handball.
But players before Saturday's morning skate played something that kind of looked like football in the BankAtlantic Center's media parking lot. D Randy Jones described the shirts/skins game as Ultimate Frisbee with a football. "It was better than doing sprints or stretching," he said.
At a bit of a loss was LW Sean Bergenheim, who said that in his native Finland, American football "isn't the biggest sport." And Jones joked that Bergenheim was his side's ninth-string quarterback. Bergenheim took mock offense. "I didn't make any fumbles or bad passes," he said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Stamkos did not score for the first time this season and the first time in eight games going back to 2009-10. … W Ryan Malone, D Randy Jones, C Dominic Moore and D Mike Lundin also were minus-3. … Monday's game with the Stars at the St. Pete Times Forum is Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Ticket prices include a donation to the Lightning Foundation. … F Dana Tyrell, D Matt Smaby and D Mattias Ohlund (knee) were scratched.