Physically, today was a light day for the Lightning as they returned to the “office” after Tuesday’s day off. The only players to hit the ice were goaltenders Mike Smith and Antero Niittymaki who were out at 9:15 a.m. working with Goaltending Coach Cap Raeder. The rest of the team assembled at 10 a.m. for an off-ice work out. After the workout the team converged on the locker room where they went through about 45 minutes of video instruction from the coaching staff, further implementing this season’s systems. Afterwards the coaches cleared the room allowing the players to meet by themselves and cover a few NHLPA matters.
While the players were meeting, Rick Tocchet met with the media and emphasized the change in attitude from last season. He specifically talked about how Vinny Lecavalier has changed his attitude, citing that the captain is the first player in the gym for workouts and is out in front on leadership issues. He also said that Ryan Malone has stepped his game up when it comes to leadership. Everyone has been talking since before training camp about 2009-10 being a new season and trying to erase last season, but it seems that the players are truly following though on those comments behind closed doors.
Mike Lundin and Matt Lashoff cleared waivers today and were reassigned to Norfolk. And like we discussed about Ryan Craig and Adam Hall on Monday, being forced to send these guys down just shows the level of depth the Lightning have right now. At best, this makes the Admirals much better, at worst, Tampa Bay has a couple NHL-caliber defensemen in the system to call up should the injury bug (please, everyone, knock on wood now) hit. The Lightning also signed forward Mitch Fritz to a two-way deal today. If you remember, Fritz had a cup of coffee in the Lightning organization, but he never saw action with Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-8 left wing got his first taste of action last season, playing in 20 games with the New York Islanders, and he should provide a level of toughness the organization was lacking. He has 761 career penalty minutes in 270 career AHL games.
The team will get back on the ice tomorrow, practicing for the next two days before heading to Atlanta to open the season on Saturday.