The Tampa Bay Lightning will host the expansion Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in two of five regular-season games at Orlando Arena next season.
The Lightning will play the state rival Panthers on Dec.
In a news release, Lightning general manager Phil Esposito said: "As Florida's first NHL franchise, we welcome the Florida Panthers to the NHL. We expect a natural rivalry to develop during the preseason as teams battle for state supremacy."
In Orlando on Tuesday, Esposito was a little more blunt.
"We already hate them," he said. "I still call them Miami and won't call them Florida. We're Florida's team because we were here first."
The Lightning also will play in Orlando Dec.
24 and Feb.
12. The opponents of those games will be announced with the NHL schedule in July.
"But we do know we'll be playing the Mighty Ducks in Orlando," Esposito said. "Mr. (Michael) Eisner (chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Corp., which owns the franchise) insisted that we play the game in Orlando."
To cut down on travel and promote hockey in Florida, the Lightning will play seven preseason games in the state. Two will be at Orlando Arena _ Sept.
25 against the Panthers and Sept.
29 against the Dallas Stars (formerly the Minnesota North Stars).
There also will be preseason games at Lakeland, Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa Bay. The two out-of-state preseason games will be at Atlanta (home of the Lightning's farm team, the Knights) and St. Louis.
Tickets for the Orlando games are $50, $34.50, $28.50, $19.50 and $12. Tickets, either individually or as a seven-game package, can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets or by phone, (813) 287-8844.
It's official: Bowman named Red Wings coach
DETROIT _ Scotty Bowman wins, consistently. So Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch hired him to win a Stanley Cup.
"Scotty Bowman knows how to win. It's as simple as that," Ilitch said.
Bowman has a record 971 NHL victories and six Stanley Cup championships.
Ilitch gave Bowman a two-year contract reportedly worth nearly $2-million. That would make him the highest-paid coach in the NHL.
Penguins: Jack Kelley was named president, replacing Howard Baldwin, who remains owner and chairman of the board. Kelley has been a hockey coach and administrator for 38 years. In a three-page letter to season-ticket holders, Baldwin said the team blundered in the way it presented its price hike. Baldwin guaranteed that fans who purchase season tickets for the 1993-94 season will be able to get those tickets for the same price the following season.
_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.