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Tampa Bay Lightning's Mattias Ohlund won't make excuses for bad 2009-10

Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund, stretching at a workout in Brandon this week, says he has high demands for himself.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund, stretching at a workout in Brandon this week, says he has high demands for himself.

BRANDON — Mattias Ohlund did not want to hear any excuses.

He did not want to hear how injuries last season to both ankles and his right knee slowed him. And he really did not want to hear that he was being too hard on himself.

"I just didn't have a good year," the Lightning defenseman said Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum. "It doesn't matter how you put it. I can't sugarcoat it. I didn't have a good year."

Plenty of Tampa Bay players had bad years. Ohlund, though, was the team's marquee free agent acquisition in July 2009, signing a seven-year, $25.25 million deal to be a defensive anchor with an offensive sensibility and a locker room presence.

But Ohlund, 34, who averaged a team-high 22:49 of ice time in 67 games, believes he was slow defensively. He had a career-low 13 points and for the first time in the NHL did not score a goal.

As opposed to 11 previous seasons with the Canucks, Ohlund got little power-play time. And though new coach Guy Boucher said Ohlund might have been uncomfortable used as a defensive specialist rather than an all-around player in the previous staff's system, Ohlund said that is another excuse he is not willing to make. "I know I have a lot more offensive ability than to score zero goals," he said.

Boucher said it remains to be seen how much power-play time Ohlund gets this season, but he knows the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder "will be one of my leaders."

"He's still got a lot to offer," Boucher said. "He hits like a train. His positional play is great, and now I think he's more comfortable coming in and knowing what to expect."

Ohlund said his ankle sprains that at times had him in a walking boot have healed, and he had a minor arthroscopic procedure over the summer to fix cartilage damage in his knee.

"It's a new year," he said. "I have high demands. I know I can play better."

If that's the case, Mike Lundin can't wait to see it.

"He just takes control of the game," Ohlund's defensive partner said. "He's always there to cover for you or read the ice and tell you what to do, not just his D partner but the forwards, the goalie. He controls the game with his presence. I thought he was just awesome last year."

Ohlund probably doesn't want to hear that, either.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Mattias Ohlund won't make excuses for bad 2009-10 09/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 8:10am]
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