Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.
"It was hard to watch," Brown told the Tampa Bay Times Thursday.
One of Brown's first thoughts was how difficult it would be eventually for him and his wife, Lexi, to explain to their eight-week-old daughter, Lily, of why such a tragic event happened. Brown, 27, is one of around 30 African American players in the NHL....
Hobey Baker-winning defenseman Will Butcher is now an unrestricted free agent, and is likely to draw his share of suitors.
So far, however, the Lightning isn't among them.
Butcher, 22, drafted by the Avalanche in 2013, is expected to chat with several teams, reportedly including the Sabres, Devils and Golden Knights. The left-shot defenseman is a strong puck-mover, with 43 points in 37 games for the Pioneers en route to the NCAA Championship....
While Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has a tendency to be quiet around the media, he's a Russian with a variety of interests and a passionate hockey mind.
I've experienced it before in many conversations the past few years, and it's part of the All-Star wing that Lightning fans likely would like see more of.
Kucherov, 24, recently did a Q&A with Russia's Sovsport.ru, in which he addressed an array of topics, from his season to the Olympics and even Game of Thrones. A few subjects the Tampa Bay Times had already broached a couple weeks ago in our Kucherov story , specifically how he's put synthetic ice in his garage in a tireless summer workout routine. And, just as importantly, how Kucherov feels good after a meeting with GM Steve Yzerman earlier this summer, putting some harshly-translated comments about the Lightning behind him....
For Lightning wing Erik Condra, the recent passing of Bryan Murray hit home.
Murray, who died of colon cancer Saturday at the age of 74, was the general manager of the Ottawa Senators when Condra first broke into the NHL. Condra, 31, was picked in the seventh round by Ottawa in 2008, playing for the Senators from 2010-2015 after a college career at Notre Dame.
"He gave me my first opportunity to play in the NHL," Condra said Tuesday. "He's just a great hockey mind. You always think of hockey, but he was also a great person. He would try to stay away as much as he could (as a GM), but when you're in tough times, he'd come in and make his presence known. He always seemed to be on the players' side, always wanted to hear what you had to say, listen to your opinion. Sometimes, people in that position can be stubborn, but was open and willing to learn."...
There hasn't been much rest in Nikita Kucherov's extended offseason.
After helping lead Russia to a bronze medal at the World Championships in mid-May, Kucherov, 24, returned to Tampa in early June. He's been skating locally five-to-six days a week for more than a month, including Tuesday's solo workout at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.
Kucherov has also privately begun to work out any perceived issues with the Lightning. The All-Star wing met in late June with general manager Steve Yzerman, discussing some harshly-translated comments he made in the Russian media in late April. Kucherov had told Sovetsky Sport, a Russian daily sports newspaper, that some Tampa Bay players "got their money and stopped working." Kucherov also lamented how often the coaching staff changed lines....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman dropped an intriguing idea while talking to sports talk radio station 620-AM on Tuesday morning:
He said Major League Soccer is interested in using the Tropicana Field site for a bigger soccer-orientated stadium that could host the Tampa Bay Rowdies and big soccer-related events, such as a world tournament.
His idea would come into play if the Tampa Bay Rays were to leave St. Petersburg for a new stadium, either in Tampa or somewhere else in Pinellas County....
St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman has made it clear he'd love the Rays to stay in the city, whether it's the current Tropicana Field site or somewhere else in the county.
At the very least, Kriseman hopes the team remains in the the Tampa Bay region.
But Kriseman floated an interesting potential alternative for the Trop today on 620-AM.
Kriseman said if the Rays decide to leave the site, the Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is "excited and intrigued" by the Trop as a larger soccer-orientated stadium that could host the Rowdies and world tournaments....
Tony Colton may have looked up to the Lightning players he got the chance to befriend the past couple years.
But to them, Colton, 17, was the real inspiration.
Colton's seven-year battle with cancer ended Sunday night when the Sarasota teenager passed away. It hit home for many in the Lightning organization; Colton was a fixture at Amalie Arena in recent seasons, and was an inspiration for Jon Cooper's "Catch for Kids," which raised money for pediatric cancer. Colton courageously created awareness for undifferentiated sarcoma, a rare childhood affliction that starts in the body's soft tissue....
It's the dog days of the NHL offseason, with the calendar finally ready to flip to August.
But there's still plenty to talk about, and debate, even with training camps more than a month away.
Enjoyed fielding some of your Lightning-related questions on Twitter (@TBTimes_JSmith), and here's my thoughts on some hot topics:
*How is Steven Stamkos doing?
Captain Steven Stamkos is having one heck of a summer, recently honeymooning with bride Sandra to celebrate last month's wedding in Toronto. He attended Victor Hedman's wedding a couple weeks ago in Sweden.
But Stamkos has also been working hard, continuing his recovery from mid-November knee surgery, which sidelined him for most of last season. GM Steve Yzerman has told me he expects Stamkos to be ready to go for camp and the start of next season. And the few times I've communicated with the Stamkos, he's been positive.
"He's doing great," agent Mark Guy said. "No issues."
The biggest question, however, is what Stamkos we will see on the ice this season? With a surgery of this magnitude, repairing a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, there tends to be some lingering impact. Wild wing Zach Parise, who had the same surgery on the same knee in November 2010, told the Times it took him "a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal." Stamkos was playing arguably the best hockey of his life last season when he got hurt. There's no doubt plenty of eyes will be on the face of the franchise when training camp opens in mid-September.
*Thet Bolts sort of have a logjam on 'D' suddenly. Do you see them trading (Andrej) Sustr in the offseason?
It's possible the Lightning could move a defenseman - like Sustr - before the start of the regular season. Tampa Bay currently has eight NHL-ready defensemen, if you include Mikhail Sergachev, 19, who I believe has a strong chance to make the opening night roster. Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin were re-signed, and need to play. Veteran Dan Girardi, signed to a two-year, $6 million deal, wasn't given that money to be a 7th defenseman; he's been told he'll play qualilty minutes. Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Braydon Coburn are obvious regulars. While Yzerman said he can carry eight defensemen, that doesn't seem like the most ideal situation, one or two guys sitting each night. I think the Lightning will let training camp play out, see if Sergachev proves ready, see if everyone stays healthy. In the end, Sustr, who is on a one-year, $1.95 million deal, could be moved.
*Do you think the Lightning signing Jaromir Jagr is a possibility?...
07/31/17 Lightning Strikes
The Lightning will have six nationally-televised games this season, two coming against the Blackhawks.
All six will be on NBCSN, starting with Oct. 17 at the Devils. There's also Nov. 8 at San Jose, Nov. 22 vs Chicago, Nov. 29 at Boston, Dec. 12 at St. Louis and Jan. 22 at Chicago. Five of the six are road games, the only home one Jan. 22 vs the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks lead all teams with 17 nationally-televised games, with the Penguins and Flyers having 16. The Capitals, Red Wings and Bruins have 15. The Predators, which lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Pittsburgh, has seven....
The Lightning will have six nationally-televised games this season, two of which coming against the Blackhawks.
All six will be on NBCSN, starting with Oct. 17 at the Devils. There's also Nov. 8 at San Jose, Nov. 22 vs Chicago, Nov. 29 at Boston, Dec. 12 at St. Louis and Jan. 22 at Chicago. Five of the six are road games, the only home one Jan. 22 vs the Blackhawks. Tampa Bay had seven last season, when it waas preseason Stanley Cup favorites....
The offseason has been busy for the Lightning, with the Jonathan Drouin trade, expansion draft and free agent signings of Dan Girardi and Chris Kunitz. Joe Smith breaks down all the moves, talks about what lies ahead and answers your questions in our latest Lightning Strikes! podcast. Listen here:...
07/06/17 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — As expected, the Lightning re-signed defenseman Jake Dotchin on Wednesday to a bargain, two-year deal worth $812,500 annually.
That was the easy part.
The more challenging next step for Tampa Bay is coming to terms with its big-name restricted free agents, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Both filed for arbitration by Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline.
No need to set off any alarms. This move was expected, a logical next step in negotiations. Johnson and Palat will have arbitration hearings scheduled in late July/early August for their camps and the Lightning to each propose a contract for next season and argue their case, with an independent arbitrator ruling....
As expected, the Lightning re-signed defenseman Jake Dotchin Wednesday to a bargain, two-year deal worth $812,500 annually.
That was the easy part.
The more challenging next step for Tampa Bay is coming to terms with its big name restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Both Johnson and Palat filed for arbitration by Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline.
No need to set off any alarms. This move was expected. Johnson and Palat will each have a scheduled arbitration hearing for late July/early August where both their camps and the Lightning propose a contract for next season and argue their case, with an independent arbitrator ruling....
As expected, the Lightning re-signed defenseman Jake Dotchin to a two-year deal. The average annual value is $812,500.
That'll likely be a bargain for Tampa Bay, with Dotchin, 23, balancing out its blueline last season, emerging as a strong partner for Victor Hedman.
With Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek (one year, $800,000) signed, the Lightning's next order of business is signing RFAs Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Palat filed for arbitration by today's 5 p.m. deadline, not sure yet on Johnson. The Lightning, of course, could still sign both forwards before a hearing, like it did with Alex Killorn last July....