TAMPA — Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said the uncertainty swirling around the owners was not a distraction but having Jeff Vinik execute an agreement to buy the team is a plus.
"It's nice, obviously from everything we've read the last week, the last month, even last summer, it's nice those talks in the paper will be over with," Lecavalier said Saturday. "You always want the business side to be settled."
Especially when co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie reportedly needed an advance from the league's revenue-sharing fund to help meet the January payroll.
Coach Rick Tocchet agreed it's a positive that everyone knows what's going on and can look ahead.
"Every individual has his own opinion, but the last ownership gave me a chance, so I owe them a lot," he said. "(Vinik is) excited about coming to the community and making us a first-class organization, like he said. We haven't all met him, but we're excited. Absolutely."
He understands that once Vinik has been approved as owner by the NHL's Board of Governors, he will evaluate the staff and the players. Tocchet's philosophy, as it is for a player who's traded, is simple:
"You have to try to be as normal as possible. You have to be who you are. If you try to be something you're not, I'm sure people will realize that pretty quick."
SYMMETRY IN NHL: Calgary C Daymond Langkow, the Lightning's first-round draft choice (fifth overall) in 1995 who is now in his fifth season with the Flames, played his 1,000th career game Saturday.
"It's obviously not an easy thing, and it's not something you think about when you start," Langkow said of the milestone, adding it is something he is proud of accomplishing. Teammate Jarome Iginla hit that mark Friday night at Florida.
Want to guess which team Langkow played against in his NHL debut during the 1995-96 season? Yep, Calgary.
"Somebody asked me the other day who my first game was against, and I thought it was Calgary, but I wasn't 100 percent sure," said Langkow, dealt by Tampa Bay to Philadelphia in December 1998.
"It's kind of weird that I'm back here where it started. I would never have thought that, but it's kind of neat. … There's some good memories. … I had some fun here."
ANOTHER FAMILIAR FACE: Flames D Cory Sarich spent parts of seven seasons with the Lightning, including the team's Stanley Cup campaign.
"It always feels a little different to come back," he said. "This is only my second trip since I signed with Calgary (as a free agent in July 2007), so it hasn't happened all that often."
ODDS AND ENDS: Lecavalier needed five stitches above his left eye after he was hit inadvertently by Alex Tanguay's stick Thursday against the Islanders. Tanguay capped off the sequence by assisting on a Lecavalier goal. … C Paul Szczechura cleared waivers and is on reassignment in AHL Norfolk.
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.