RALEIGH, N.C. — Captain Tim Taylor said the almost eight months in which the Lightning's ownership situation has been unresolved has been "like a cloud" over the team.
"This team has been on hold for the whole season," Taylor said. "I really think if this would have come to the forefront earlier and been done, I truly believe the season could have been a lot different. Lots of people's hands wouldn't have been tied, so to speak."
Taylor was talking about general manager Jay Feaster, who is trying to serve two masters: owner Palace Sports & Entertainment and prospective owner Oren Koules, who despite an inability to close his deal was allowed, with fellow investor Len Barrie, to be part of the decision-making process at the trade deadline.
"Are you making decisions for the current owner on a short-term basis, or are you looking at what you believe the new owner wants on a long-term basis?" Taylor said. "It's very difficult."
Center Craig MacDonald said players generally keep such distractions at bay.
"We can't control any of it, so why should we worry about it?" he said.
But after purchase agreements with two different groups since Aug. 7, a lawsuit among the original investors, and complications getting financing thanks to the worldwide credit crunch, right wing Marty St. Louis said, "There's uncertainty, sure."
"It creeps into your mind," he added. "We knew our management was tied up. We had some injuries early on. And I think they wanted to do something, and they couldn't. Did that affect things? Absolutely."
"I hope it gets resolved as quickly as possible," Taylor said. "Then Oren can come in and, basically, give his plan to the fans."
DRAFT LOTTERY: The process by which the draft order is determined for the 14 nonplayoff teams will be held Monday.
HALPERN IN WORLDS: John Tortorella, who will coach the United States at the world championship, said Maryland-born center Jeff Halpern will play in the tournament, which begins May 2 in Halifax and Quebec.
ODDS AND ENDS: Mike Smith tweaked his sore left knee when Halpern tackled Carolina's Ryan Bayda and both fell on the goalie. & Entering Wednesday, defenseman Dan Boyle led the league with an average ice time of 27:31. & Forwards Andre Roy and Karl Stewart and defenseman Shane O'Brien were scratched.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.