BRANDON — For now, it's business as usual for Lightning players working out informally at the Ice Sports Forum — except it is costing $350 per hour to do it.
With players locked out by the league because a collective bargaining agreement is not in place, teams no longer are providing ice time.
So, on Monday, 18 Tampa Bay players paid the same rate as anyone else to rent a rink, Ice Sports Forum general manager Brenda McKinnon said.
They also showered and dressed in a cramped locker room steps away from their usual plush digs that are off limits, and hauled sweaty gear home instead of leaving it to be cleaned.
"We're just staying prepared for whatever, whether it's the NHL or Europe," W Marty St. Louis said. "You've got to do that. You can't just take a couple of weeks off."
Several players are considering playing in Europe if the lockout drags into October.
"It's hard because the league has grown so much you wouldn't think you would be in this situation," St. Louis said. "We were struggling (in 2004-05) and we were locked out. We're doing great and we get locked out again. That's what's frustrating."
Added D Sami Salo: "Players gave the owners what they were looking for last time. Now they're saying it's still not working. They're still thinking the players have to make sacrifices and they don't have to make any sacrifices to fix the real problems. It's sad how they look at it."
POINT MADE: About commissioner Gary Bettman, the owners' point man during negotiations, St. Louis said, "My wife tells my kids if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it."
ODDS AND ENDS: Only RW Dana Tyrell and D Mattias Ohlund, both rehabbing knee injuries, can use the team's training facilities. "Maybe it ends up being good," Tyrell said of the lockout, "extra time, better shape, better strength." … D Keith Aulie, who has a two-way NHL contract, said playing for AHL Syracuse during the lockout with a minor-league deal is "a chance to get better," though he has yet to sign.