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ST. LOUIS EXCITED BY OFFSEASON MOVES

Marty St. Louis gave thumbs-up to the Lightning's "great" offseason personnel moves.

"Last year we hit probably the lowest point for this franchise in the past five or six years. But we're on the way back up," the right wing said Saturday. "The reason I feel that way is the things they've done the past three months."

It was high praise and important; St. Louis is one of the locker room's influential leaders. He said he watched closely to see how the organization would respond to a desperate situation:

"Of course, absolutely. You finish 30th (in the league) and 29th the past two years, you want to see the team make moves, and the right moves. The moves they made have been great."

He didn't gloss over the upgrades on defense but gave his highest praise to the acquisition of LW Alex Tanguay: "To get Tanguay at this time of his career at that price ($2.5 million for one year), it's amazing."

OWNERSHIP ISSUES:Len Barrie has said he wanted the squabble between him and Oren Koules resolved by Saturday's start of training camp to keep the focus on the team.

But with both owners scrambling for financing to buy out the other - Barrie with St. Louis real estate investor Anthony Sansone Jr. and Koules with, it seems, Los Angeles real estate mogul Jeff Greene - and the league tied up with the potential sale of the Coyotes, things are in a holding pattern.

GM Brian Lawton has promised it will not affect the team.

"That has not gotten in the way of one thing we've tried to do," he said when Tanguay signed. "It wouldn't be out of the ordinary to draw the conclusion it could stand in the way of some things getting done, but it hasn't. Our body of work reflects that."

OHLUND SKIPS SKATE: D Mattias Ohlund said a minor flexor injury in his right hip that bothered him the past "few weeks" kept him from testing.

"The starts and stops wouldn't be good," he said.

Ohlund said he expects to skate today, and coach Rick Tocchet said he has no concerns.

TESTING: Each player skated six sets of five sprints from goal line to the near blue line, and then four one-lap sprints.

"If you did those (laps) alone, they wouldn't be that hard," C Vinny Lecavalier said. "But after 30 sprints, it was tough."

As tough as the testing under former coach John Tortorella?

"It was just as hard, but it was totally different," Lecavalier said. "This was more specific to a hockey shift. When you do sprints or 22-second laps, you teach your body to be quick, and that's what you want. You want to be quick and recuperate and go back to doing another sprint."

"It looked like the guys worked hard (over the summer)," Tocchet said. "Their shirts are off. I don't see any fat guys around. ... Maybe in the media."

SMOLENAK SIGNS: As expected, LW Radek Smolenak signed a one-year, two-way deal. More interesting was listening to him describe his short-lived experience in Russia.

"I hated it there," said Smolenak, 22, who in May signed with Nizhnekamsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. "I'm happy I'm not there any more." The problem: "The city wasn't like New York. It was pretty painful."

Smolenak, with 24 goals, 49 points and 165 penalty minutes in 71 games last season with AHL Norfolk, said he signed with Nizhnekamsk with the intention of playing one year "to get better and get stronger." When Nizhnekamsk, at its limit of imported players, wanted another, Smolenak said he asked to leave.

ODDS AND ENDS: All 52 players were in camp. ... D Mike Lundin was married July 4 to Shelly Seipp. ... Rain should not affect today's fan party because much of the festivities are scheduled for indoors.

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