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Tampa Bay Lightning's Tocchet says get tougher or get out

TAMPA — Rick Tocchet advocates a get-tough policy that could result in benchings or, in extreme cases, players perhaps being let go if they do not play a grittier game that includes taking themselves and the puck to the net.

"This is for everybody," the Lightning's interim coach said before Wednesday's game against the Rangers. "If the results aren't there, I don't care who it is, you're not going to play. I don't know if we're at that time yet, but it's getting close. We're going to have to get a little bit of urgency. We thought we had some baby steps, but then New Jersey happened."

And Tampa Bay on Sunday was embarrassed 7-3.

"Was Jersey something that just happened," Tocchet said, "or is it something that we have problems, we're going to start getting rid of people here?"

Getting rid of people?

"That's what it's going to come down to if we don't start to learn how to play and play grittier," he said. "My philosophy as a coach is, you give a guy a warning, you let him out there again, let him try to make up for his mistake or lack of effort. The second time, you have to stick him in the stands and not play him as much. Probably the third or fourth time, it's time you get the guy out of here.''

IT WASN'T SURGERY: G Mike Smith said he sat out Sunday for a minor procedure to cut the end of an irritated abdominal nerve. He said the nerve originally was cut four years ago, when he was with the Stars, as part of sports hernia surgery. Smith said Sunday's procedure barely opened the skin and does not hamper his movement.

KOCI SIGHTING: Enforcer David Koci played his first game since being claimed off waivers Nov. 20 from the Blues. The left wing, on a line with C Ryan Craig and Adam Hall, was added for grit and muscle to match up with New York's Colton Orr and Aaron Voros, whom Ryan Malone already had fought twice.

ODDS AND ENDS: LW Matt Pettinger, who hurt his right knee when he hit a rut during Tuesday's practice, will have an MRI exam. … Lukas Krajicek (knee) played after missing one game. … D Jamie Heward was reassigned to AHL Norfolk. … LW Gary Roberts (upper body) and C Chris Gratton (knee) skated but remained on injured reserve. … New associate coach Mike Sullivan watched from the press box. "We'll get Sully jumping in with both feet (today)," Tocchet said.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Tocchet says get tougher or get out 11/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 28, 2008 7:36pm]
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