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Ex-Lightning coach back

Former assistant Rick Paterson is named the professional scout.

Rick Paterson said he likes the changes in the Lightning organization since Palace Sports & Entertainment bought the team, and he wants to be a part of it.

Paterson, who was fired as an assistant coach the day after coach Jacques Demers was let go, was hired as the team's professional scout, it was announced Monday.

"The ownership is strong and solid," he said. "I think that the ownership has always been a bit of an issue in the back of the players' and management's mind. Now it's an extremely solid ownership which has a sports background and knows what it takes."

Paterson, 41, said he received "feelers" about a coaching position in the East Coast Hockey League.

"But I like the direction the (Lightning) is heading, and I know it's an important position within the organization," he said. "And they seem to have some faith in me. I'm sort of excited about it."

Paterson was pro scout for the 1991-92 Penguins and prepared the strategy for each of their opponents on the way to their second straight Stanley Cup.

"This is something Rick has done very successfully in the past," Rick Dudley, the Lightning's vice president of hockey operations and general manager, said in a statement. "He has a good eye for talent."

Paterson was a Penguins assistant from 1990-93. He was coach of the IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks from 1993-97. He was hired as a Lightning assistant under Terry Crisp in 1997 and served as interim coach for six games before Demers was hired Nov. 12.

"It makes you more well-rounded to do this," he said. "I think it's an opportunity to see what's out there, and it's a different side of the business. I think it's great in our business, in hockey, to get to know more about the organization."

ASSAULT PLEA: Minor-leaguer Jesse Boulerice, accused of hitting an opponent with a baseball-type swing of his stick, pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of aggravated assault. If he stays out of trouble until Nov. 9, the conviction will be expunged from his record.

CANADIENS: Montreal signed goaltender Frederic Chabot and defenseman Craig Rivet and confirmed the signings of Barry Richter, Scott Lachance and Dainius Zubrus.

CAPITALS: Washington signed defenseman Jamie Huscroft to a two-year contract.

OILERS: Goaltender Tommy Salo was awarded a one-year contract worth $1.6-million by an independent arbitrator. Salo was seeking $2.495-million while the team offered an undisclosed qualifying offer above his $1.05-million salary from last season.

PENGUINS: Mario Lemieux's ownership group remains without a deal on concessions that would free Pittsburgh from paying millions of dollars owed the county and city for Civic Arena improvements.

RANGERS: New York agreed to terms with minor-league goaltender Jean-Francois Labbe.

_ Information from Times wires was used in this report.