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Who might be the Tampa Bay Lightning's CEO under new owner Jeff Vinik?

TORONTO — Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said last week during his introductory news conference that his "biggest focus" is bringing in a "world-class CEO to preside over the organization."

The person does not have to have a hockey background, Vinik said, but must possess "great business experience."

Who out there fits the profile? A possible starting point:

Jim Lites, 57: He is managing the seat licensing program for the NFL's Giants but has an extensive hockey background. He was president of the Stars from 1993-2006 and spent 11 years as an executive vice president of the Red Wings.

Lites has ties to Jac Sperling, the Wild governor who guided Vinik through the process of purchasing the Lightning. Lites said he has not contacted Tampa Bay and the organization has not contacted him.

"I like Florida," he said. "I wouldn't say I wouldn't consider it."

• Tod Leiweke, 50: He's the CEO of the NFL's Seahawks and Vulcan Sports, which also oversees the NBA's Trail Blazers. Before joining the Seahawks in 2003, Leiweke was president of the Wild and CEO of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment. He also has close ties with Sperling. The Seahawks did not respond when asked if the Lightning asked for permission to speak to Leiweke.

Sean Henry, 42: The Lightning's former chief operating officer resigned in December 2008 but was brought back a month later as a consultant. Henry, heavily involved in recent marketing strategies, was quoted in this week's organizational announcement that it lowered season-ticket prices for 2010-11.

Ron Campbell, 54: The Lightning's former president was moved out of the position in August 2008 and named a special adviser. He was executive vice president of former Lightning owner Palace Sports & Entertainment and, with Henry, is credited with turning the St. Pete Times Forum into one of the nation's busiest arenas.

MALONE RETURNS: After missing one game with what he called a minor upper-body injury that has lingered for a while, Ryan Malone was eager to help the team "give everything we've got."

The left wing has zero goals in 15 games and two in 27.

"When you're not helping the team, it's obviously frustrating," he said. "When you're winning, it doesn't really matter too much. But when you start losing, you start looking upon yourself a little more to help out."

STAMKOS FEVER: C Steven Stamkos' 58 goals since Feb. 17, 2009, are one behind league leader Alex Ovechkin. His team-record 18-game points streak (17 goals, 16 assists) is one off the league's season best by Anaheim's Corey Perry. Stamkos also has scored in seven straight games, best in the league this season and one game off the team record set in November 1992 by Brian Bradley. Stamkos has scored in 10 of his past 11 games and had three assists in the game without a goal.

ODDS AND ENDS: D Matt Smaby and LW Todd Fedoruk were scratched. … Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson passed Bryan Murray for sixth all time with his 1,240th game.

Who might be the Tampa Bay Lightning's CEO under new owner Jeff Vinik? 03/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 12:19am]
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