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The Lightning on Tuesday lost WDavid Koci to the Blues via waivers, picked up W Matt Pettinger from the Canucks off recall waivers and put W Jason Ward on waivers.

The Koci transaction was most interesting because it so disappointed coach Barry Melrose: "I hate to see him go. Hopefully, if St. Louis puts him on waivers, we'll pick him up again."

That despite playing Koci in one of the first five games, and 41 seconds at that, as the enforcer sat after consecutive penalties Saturday against the Wild.

But Melrose believes Koci's fighting ability made him valuable nonetheless. "That's why the United States has a nuclear arsenal," Melrose said. "It's called a deterrent. Think (Minnesota's Derek) Boogaard is in the lineup because he's going to get 10 goals? I don't think so."

But owner Len Barriecited what he considers a less-fight-oriented Eastern Conference.

"We like Koci, but there's no room in the East for fighting," Barrie said. "Who is Koci going to fight on the Thrashers?"

Melrose said he believes putting Koci on waivers was "a business decision more than a hockey decision." Business was part of it. Tampa Bay needs roster space to sign D Marek Malik and reinstate F Ryan Craig (groin) from injured reserve. If Ward is moved at noon today, the roster will be at 21, two under the limit.

Pettinger, 28 today, grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. He is a terrific skater and expected to play on the third or fourth line and the penalty kill.

He had 20 goals in '05-06 for the Capitals, and his five short-handed goals tied for third in the league. But he last season fell out of favor with coach Bruce Boudreau and had two goals in 56 games before a trade to Vancouver. He had three goals in two games this season for AHL Manitoba. By claiming him off recall waivers, Tampa Bay pays only half his $1.1-million salary.

HOME BOY: Barrie said Pettinger is a "very minor" investor in Barrie's Bear Mountain resort in Victoria and their relationship had "zero" to do with the signing.

Vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said Barrie told him, " 'You have to go by what our scouts say and what our management says.' Yes, (Barrie) does like him. ... But it's not at a point where he's making that decision for the hockey club."

LW Gary Roberts and special assistant Mike Vernon also are investors. Asked about making hockey decisions based on his business connections, Barrie joked, "I wish it could be because we'd have a Hall of Fame team."

KOCI SPEAKS: Koci said before he was claimed he wished the Lightning "could give me a little more chance to show" his game.

Said Lawton: "I don't like guys sitting around when they're not playing. ... That's my philosophy. You got to get him in the lineup or we have to do other things."

VERBATA RETURNS: Radim Vrbata, after a one-game benching, had an assist, his first point. Melrose said he played "okay."

"He has to compete for loose pucks. ... Vrbata has to be better."

ODDS AND ENDS:Roberts played his 1,200th NHL game. ... Ward and Pettinger were scratched.