And now there are 26.
The Tampa Bay Lightning cut defensemen Rick Lanz and Jim Benning on Saturday. General manager Phil Esposito said the team may also cut center Michel Mongeau and right wing Steve Tuttle depending upon whether the Lightning pick up a forward in today's waiver draft.
Esposito said he offered Lanz a two-way contract (a salary if he plays for the Lightning, and a smaller salary if he plays for the Atlanta Knights).
But Lanz, a 9-year NHL veteran who has not played in the league the past three years because of injuries, turned down Esposito's offer late Friday night of a one-year contract with a one-year option.
"The plan was to start him in Atlanta, but he would end up with us," Esposito said. "But he wanted a different two-way contract. He wanted more money in Atlanta and would take less in Tampa. But we couldn't give him as much as he wanted in Atlanta."
Lanz came to training camp with no contract, but was impressive.
"Now I don't know where he is," Esposito said. "He's a free agent."
Benning, a 9-year NHL veteran who has not played in the league the past two years, was reassigned to Atlanta.
Esposito said one of the biggest disappointments of training camp was Mongeau, the first forward selected in June's expansion draft.
"He really was the best player in the IHL last season as far as we're concerned," Esposito said. "But he's not had a good training camp.
"I talked to him and (coach) Terry (Crisp) talked to him. He told us he is notorious for having bad training camps. But as an expansion team, we can't go on that."
Mongeau scored 21 goals and 34 assists in 32 games for Peoria last season. He has had just one assist in four preseason games.
The waiver draft
The Lightning has the first pick in today's waiver draft. Some of the more notable players available are: New York Islanders defenseman Dean Chynoweth (13th pick overall in the 1987 entry draft), Minnesota left wing Brian Propp (13-year NHL veteran), Buffalo goaltender Clint Malarchuk (10-year veteran) and Los Angeles right wing Dave Taylor (15-year veteran).
Esposito said he hopes a certain center, whom he declined to name, was on the list. He also is interested in obtaining a defenseman, if there is one available that he likes.
The draft goes until no team makes a selection. If a team picks a player, they have to make another player available for the draft.
Esposito said he's not concerned. "We an add people (to the list) until we're blue in the face and we won't lose anybody."
Chambers to be examined
Defenseman Shawn Chambers will have his left knee examined by a doctor Monday in Tampa.
Chambers, who played in just seven games last season because of the knee problem, has played in intersquad scrimmages, but it is still unclear when he will play in a game.
Ubriaco: part coach, counselor
Gene Ubriaco spent part of his time coaching and part counseling during the first week of the Atlanta Knights training camp.
"This is a hard week," he said. "A lot of the guys are down because they got cut (from the Lightning). They had high hopes, so you have got to pick them up."
Ubriaco said players like Dan Vincelette, Keith Osborne and Brent Gretzky are "just okay, but they'll pick themselves up."
The Knights sent center Tyler Ertel and right wing Kevin MacKay to Louisville of the East Coast Hockey League. They also sent center Garin Smith to his junior team in Kitchener and did not offer a contract to right wing Jeff Harding.
_ CAMMY CLARK