Here's the thing about stupid mistakes. They stick with you.
Just ask J.T. Brown, the prized college free agent signed this week by the Lightning, who along with the usual hockey questions had to rehash what led to guilty pleas last month to two misdemeanors stemming from a June incident at a Duluth, Minn., bar.
"You're responsible for the actions you do," said Brown, who will be sentenced in July. "You've got to learn from it and go from there and hope for the best."
The Lightning, which said it was aware of Brown's situation, is expecting the best from the forward it signed to a two-year, two-way contract and who makes his debut tonight against the Jets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"We think he's a really good prospect," general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We think he's going to have a long NHL career."
Brown, 21, son of former Vikings running back Ted Brown, led Minnesota-Duluth this season with 24 goals and had 40 and 84 points in 80 games in two seasons.
As MVP of the 2011 Frozen Four, he led the Bulldogs to the NCAA title and — says Lightning senior adviser Tom Kurvers, who did the bulk of the scouting on Brown — has what it takes for the next level.
Beyond his potent offensive instincts, quick feet, live shot and "instinctive reaction to play defense," Kurvers said, Brown, 5 feet 10, 175 pounds, has "hockey courage."
"He'll take the puck into traffic on the rush," Kurvers said. "He's not a huge man, but he has the ability to hit. He skates into contact. He doesn't mind that at all."
"I just like his competitiveness and fire he brings," Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. "I also like the smile on his face when he comes to the rink."
It was about two weeks before Brown's 21st birthday when he went to a bar with a fake ID that was noticed by a police officer.
Brown was getting a citation from the officer when he fled out of the bar and down the street, where he was caught.
Brown pleaded guilty to providing police a false name, a gross misdemeanor, and fleeing on foot, a misdemeanor, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
The first charge has a maximum penalty of a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. The second has a maximum 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
"It definitely wasn't a very good decision," Brown said of running from the cops.
"He learned his lesson," Sandelin said. "We dealt with it with our team rules and moved on."
Yzerman said he had not spoken to Brown about the incident, "but I will."
"He's a young man who made a mistake," Yzerman said. "It's part of growing up. Certainly, if there is a second incident, that will be a concern to us. But we've done our homework, and we think we have a good kid here."
Brown had plenty of suitors once he announced he was leaving school after his sophomore season, with the Flyers and Bruins among the most interested.
Brown said he likes Tampa Bay's direction and the chance to compete for a job on a team that should have plenty of openings.
And there is Yzerman.
"That is someone you want to learn from," Brown said.
Added the GM: "I'm excited to see him play."
Brown — who will make $925,000 if in the NHL, $70,000 in the minors, and whose contract runs through 2012-13 — said he does not know what to expect tonight, especially playing without a practice.
"I just want to go out there and give some effort and get a perspective on a different game than I played in college," he said. "It's going to be faster, a lot more physical, so there's definitely going to be a learning curve."
streaking on: AHL Norfolk extended its league-record winning streak to 22 games Friday with a 2-1 win over visiting St. John's. Philip-Michael Devos scored with winner with 9:19 left in the game. Ondrej Palat had the other goal. Jaroslav Janus made 20 saves.
Lightning vs. Jets
When/where: 7; Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa
TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM
Key stats: Lightning LW Ryan Malone has eight goals, 18 points in his past 22 games. … Tampa Bay's power play is on a 3-for-32 home streak. … Winnipeg's 30 road points (13-21-4) are second fewest in the Eastern Conference, one better than the Lightning. … The Jets are tied for next-to-last in the league with two wins when trailing after two periods. Their second came Friday vs. the Hurricanes. … Winnipeg's Evander Kane entered Friday one of three players (with Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog) with more than 250 shots and 150 hits.