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LESS COWBELL?

Lightning coach Barry Melrose is a huge Rays fan; loves the way the team went from worst to first. But the former western Canada farm boy wonders about all the cowbell ringing that goes on at the Trop, especially given the real, practical use for the device.

"They're so big on the cowbells here, does anyone know what a cowbell is or what it's used for?

Silence from reporters.

"A cow herd always has one leader; we just call it the boss cow. Farmers used to put the bell on one cow because all the other cows stayed near the one cow, so when you went out to look for your cows at night, you'd hear the bell and know all your cows are right there.

"I personally would just like a little more education," Melrose added. "I don't think there's enough education going on at the Trop. I think if you're going to go with a symbol, you should do some education on the symbol."

Advice for the newbie

Melrose caught a replay Thursday of Matthew Barnaby's first day as ESPN's hockey analyst, a job Melrose held for 12 years. "Obviously, he's not as sharp as the last guy to do it," Melrose said, joking. "Matthew will do great. He has a great personality and loves the game." As for living in Bristol, Conn., ESPN's home base, Melrose said, "Get a heavy coat for January, February and March. Oil your (golf) clubs in January, February and March, because you're not going to need them. And get friendly with the people at Outback (Steakhouse), because you'll be living there most nights."

A better alternative

The Lightning soon will unveil its third, or alternative, jersey, a sleek blue uniform with the word BOLTS diagonally across the front. It is a slightly tweaked version of the original, on which BOLTS was less diagonal and written with smaller letters. "Simple and sharp," wing Ryan Malone said.

5 Questions for D Mike Lundin

Your first car?A 1998 Oldsmobile Bravada. I had it for four years.

Best thing you can cook?Mac 'n' cheese. I can cook some chicken; nothing too great.

On your iPod?Three Days Grace, Rooney.

Favorite TV show? The Office.

Dream date (with permission of fiance Shelly Seipp)?I'd have to say Jessica Alba.

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