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Roy returns, happy to be back 'home'

The Lightning on Saturday took a step to add some grit to its lineup and a little pep to its locker room when it picked up Andre Roy on re-entry waivers.

The left wing is expected to fly today to Tampa and join the team for Monday's practice at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"We're very excited," general manager Jay Feaster said. "We never wanted to lose him."

"I am so happy I'm going to get a chance to play," Roy said by phone from Pittsburgh.

Roy, 31, played for Tampa Bay from 2001-04, helped the team win a Stanley Cup, then signed a three-year deal with the Penguins that pays $1-million a season.

But Roy played just five games this season before being sent to the minors. Tampa Bay claimed him off waivers before he rejoined the Penguins.

By acquiring him that way, something the Penguins knew would happen, Tampa Bay has to pay just half his prorated salary of about $600,000.

As per the collective bargaining agreement, the Penguins will be responsible next season for half Roy's salary.

"He told me I was being wasted," Roy said of Penguins general manager Ray Shero. "He wanted to give me a chance to play. He told me a team might grab me. I was hoping it would be Tampa. I have great memories from there."

And the Penguins win by not paying a player $1-million to sit on the bench or play in the minors.

Technicalities aside, the Lightning is glad to acquire a 6-foot-4, 225-pound player who can skate and play physically.

"I want us to be a tougher team to play against," Feaster said.

And to have more fun.

"We're quiet in the locker room. We're quiet on the ice," Feaster said. "I think we need that kind of character, that kind of guy who keeps us loose."

Roy, whose sense of humor precedes him, is capable of that.

"Jay told me, 'Welcome home,' " Roy said. "I said, 'You're right, Tampa is my home. You have no idea how happy I am to come back.' "

CAP SPACE: It was a dizzying week for Feaster as he managed the salary cap.

Tampa Bay has $478,000 beyond the $44-million limit with which to work because Rob DiMaio is on long-term disability.

Still, the Lightning on Friday sent center Blair Jones to AHL Springfield to help create space for goalie Karri Ramo, who was called up when Marc Denis remained in the United States because of visa problems.

When Roy became available, another move had to be made. Left wing Nick Tarnasky was sent to Springfield on Saturday, though he should be called back today because Ramo will be sent back to the minors.

When it is all finished, Feaster said, Tampa Bay will be about $400,000 under the limit.

"Let me know when we're having fun," Feaster said. "I need a memo on that."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at (727) 893-8622.