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As some hit the ice elsewhere, players say all's fair in lockout

As the NHL lockout drags on, now at Day 30, more and more players have decided to find employment in other leagues.

Many general managers, including Tampa Bay's Phil Esposito, think the players shouldn't be playing during the lockout. "They're all part of the union," Esposito said. "They should all suffer together."

The union has taken the stand that the players should be allowed to work elsewhere since it was not their choice to be unemployed. The union asked all players not to skate for the first two weeks of the lockout, as a sign of solidarity, but once it was determined the start of the season would be postponed indefinitely, the union said everyone was on his own.

But the question of equity arises. Obviously, not all 700 NHLers out of work can find employment in another league. When the season starts, if it does, how much of an advantage does it give the players who have been playing during the lockout? Is it fair?

Lightning goalie Daren Puppa said it would be different if the players chose to strike. But since the players were locked out, it is fair.

"How can you tell a guy he can't go make money if he's not allowed to play (in the NHL)?" he asked.

Getting paid: This time, being No. 3 on a goalie depth chart has worked out well.

"Yes, I'm playing and getting paid," said Lightning goalie Wendell Young, who was reassigned to the Chicago Wolves of the International Hockey League just before the lockout began.

Young said the level of play in the minors has "dramatically improved over the years. It's played at a pretty high intensity."

"On opening night we sold out, around 16,000," Young said Thursday. "Last night we played before about 10.5 (thousand), which was great on a Wednesday night. There is a lot of fan support here. It doesn't hurt that the NHL is locked out. But this is a good product and a good price. It's family oriented. The music is great. They have fireworks before every game. The wolf comes out in a spotlight. They play howling noises. They really do it up big time."

The only thing Young doesn't like about playing for the Wolves is shootouts. He said he lobbied to have them ousted when he played in the American Hockey League and he would like to see them gone from the IHL. "For goalies, they are nightmares," he said.

Homesick: Lightning wing Alexander Selivanov was not happy about being reassigned to the Atlanta Knights before the lockout and he was even more unhappy playing for them. So Selivanov will return to his native Moscow this week.

"Tampa like, Atlanta no like," Selivanov said after an informal workout with Lightning players Friday at Sun Blades Ice Skating Center. "Finish, going back to Moscow Nov. 4."

Lightning director of hockey operations Tony Esposito said he was hoping to persuade Selivanov to try playing for another team in the IHL so his development in both hockey and English could continue. Selivanov was lonely in Atlanta and Esposito thought maybe if he played for Chicago, Young could help him out.

Young said he would have been happy to take Selivanov under his wing. But the 23-year-old Russian, who has a wife and 1-year-old child back in Moscow, said no. He would rather forfeit part of his $40,000 minor-league salary and play for his former team, Moscow Dynamo.

"When play hockey again here, I come back," Selivanov said.

No wonder: The Lightning coaching and training staff held a clinic for the local media on Thursday. They went over everything from entries to skate sharpening.

After assistant coach Danny Gare demonstrated on a chalkboard how power plays work, he went over to the TV monitor to show a video of a successful one.

But when the monitor was turned on, "Penthouse Video" popped on the screen.

"Danny, no wonder our power play doesn't work," head coach Terry Crisp said with a devilish grin. Of course, it wasn't really a porno film. But with no team to coach, the coaching staff has a lot of idle time to come up with pranks.

A year reprieve: When the Whalers were sold in June, part of the deal was for the new owners to keep the team in Hartford for at least four years. But if this season isn't played, some Whaler fans asked if this year will be counted in that total. The owners agreed it won't count and another year will be added to the deal.

Strained relationship: When NHL vice president Brian Burke was in Tampa on Wednesday, he bit his tongue when asked about union boss Bob Goodenow's motives and personality.

You see, they used to have a good relationship. They both graduated from Harvard Law School and were both player agents. When Burke became an executive with the Vancouver Canucks, he turned over his client list to Goodenow.

Making history: Heather McDaniel will become the first woman to referee in minor-league hockey. The Chicago native, who has officiated games for the United States Hockey League and USA Hockey, will work some games in the Central Hockey League (which is like Double-A baseball).

He's had enough: Hockey fan Mike Lewicki, the owner of a chicken cage manufacturing company in Brantford, Ont. (home of Wayne Gretzky and Chris Gratton), filed a suit against the NHL last week. The suit contained 30 claims, including "gross unwisdomness."

New league: The Southern Hockey League held its first owners meeting about 10 days ago. The league, which will be at the level of the East Coast Hockey League (like Double-A baseball), will go as far south as Florida, as far west as Louisiana and as far north as West Virginia. Franchises cost $300,000.

Shattered dreams: David Beauregard's career ended before it started. He was the Sharks' 11th-round draft pick (271st overall) in June. He went to training camp and was impressive, but was returned to his junior team, St. Hyacinthe, for more seasoning.

But Beauregard was struck in the eye by an opponent, who managed to get his stick under Beauregard's visor. Beauregard scored but lost his left eye and his career.

"He is the ultimate character kid," Sharks vice president Chuck Grillo said. "We had in our mind that he'd (someday) replace Bob Errey or Gaetan Duchesne."

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