Nice ice, baby.
The Lightning may be looking for new owners, a new coach and a new attitude, but not everything is dire these days.
It finally is playing on good ice.
That's the word from Dan Craig, recently hired by the NHL Hockey Operations department to oversee ice conditions.
"From all the reports I got, the ice here was not very good last season, but that has changed," Craig said. "I consider this ice to be good. The people here have worked very hard to get it into good condition."
Craig is on his first of two tours through the league. He arrived in town Sunday to examine the ice and counsel the ice technicians at the Ice Palace.
Craig said it is possible to have good ice anywhere. It doesn't matter how hot the weather is or how many events are held in a building.
"Ideally, we like to have the indoor temperature of around 62 degrees with about 41 to 43 percent humidity at the start of the game," Craig said. "The key is the conversion time when switching over from hockey to concerts or the circus or whatever. The quicker you can do, the better chance you have at maintaining good ice."
Craig said that by putting curtains at the entrances to the seating areas at the Ice Palace, and placing a heavy curtain at the Zamboni entrance, the ability to maintain good ice has improved.
"And that is happening now," he said. "As I look at this ice now, it looks polished. You can't get it any better than that."
LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK: Terry Crisp can play golf all day if he wants. Or sleep until noon. Or go fishing overnight.
He doesn't have to worry about power plays or lines or how to stop Eric Lindros.
And he'll still make more money than 17 NHL coaches, according to the Hockey News.
In its Nov. 7 issue, the Hockey News published what it claims to be the salaries of all 26 NHL coaches, and Crisp, who was fired Sunday, ranks eighth with an annual salary of $515,000. He has this season and next remaining on his contract.
Who makes the most? Detroit's Scotty Bowman, who will make $970,000 this season. Ottawa's Jacques Martin, a finalist for coach of the year last season, is the lowest-paid coach with a salary of $236,000.
"I'm 26th? That's encouraging," Martin said. "That means there's only one way to go. That's up."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning dressed seven defensemen for the first time this season because three forwards were unable to play. Brian Bradley (shoulder), Troy Mallette (shoulder) and Mikael Andersson (flu) were scratched, as was healthy defenseman Jamie Huscroft. Lightning president and CEO Steve Oto has been appointed to the Florida Sports Foundation's board of governors. The Lightning today holds its first practice at the Ice Forum, its new practice facility in Brandon.
_ TOM JONES