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Taylor practices for Lightning, but return is unlikely

TAMPA — Tim Taylor hasn't been nervous about a practice since his first with the Red Wings as a rookie in 1993. But he sat in coach John Tortorella's office Saturday morning at the St. Pete Times Forum wondering if he was doing the right thing.

"He kind of laughed at me," the captain said, grinning.

Taylor, 39, seemed as if he had answered the question after practicing for the first time in almost six months since surgery on his right hip.

His body feeling better than at any time in the past seven years, he joked about being "ready to go" but seemed at ease with the prospect he might have played his last game. Taylor's wording gave every indication he is unlikely to attempt to return after missing all of this season.

"Is it very wise for me to come back and play one or two games and risk the rest of my life?" he said. "I got this surgery so I could live the rest of my life without the pain I was going through and discomfort. So I'll leave it at this: I'm going to go practice and have fun with the guys."

Quick return: Center Jeff Halpern, who entered Saturday with five goals and 10 points in nine games since being acquired in the Brad Richards deal, played after Tortorella said in the morning he would be scratched.

Halpern strained his back on a first-period faceoff Thursday — a game in which he scored a power-play goal — and played just one shift in the second before leaving for good.

nominated: Craig MacDonald, a 30-year-old journeyman who has found success — despite taking a shot Dec.  20 that yielded nine lost teeth and multiple root canals — and an advocate in Tortorella, was nominated by the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Masterton Award.

The league-wide award honors perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Tortorella, impressed that MacDonald missed just one game "no matter what they did to him in the dentist's chair," hopes the multitasking wing can be included in next season's plans.

"He's earned the respect of the coaching staff and organization," he said. "And you have to take a look at him as we start trying to get our team back together."

The winner is announced in June.

odds and ends: Tortorella said Mike Smith and Karri Ramo will share the final 10 games of the season though Smith, acquired in the Richards deal, has started three of the past four. … Defenseman Mike Lundin injured an ankle sliding into the boards in the second and did not return.

Taylor practices for Lightning, but return is unlikely 03/15/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2008 12:15am]
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