Opening training camp in traditional fashion, with the team’s annual media day, the Tampa Bay Lightning spent the better part of their morning working through a number of stations that consisted of everything from blood work and paperwork to headshots and action shots.
The Tampa-area media also got their chance to speak with the Bolts.
Below you’ll find a number of storylines that emerged from the scrums today:
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Excluding Martin St. Louis and a handful of other veterans, the Lightning squad is a young one, and with the departure of captain Vinny Lecavlier, it seems only natural that St. Louis will take ownership of the role that Lecavlier left behind.
“I think it’s important for people to be expected to be leaned on,” said St. Louis. “I’m expecting it, I’m welcoming it, but it’s not something I’m constantly thinking about. “
However, despite Steven Stamkos’ age, the first-round pick draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2008, already has five years of experience under his belt to boot.
“I thought last year was a big step for me,” said Stamkos. “Each and every year, as you gain more experience in this league, you want to be able to take on a bigger role and I’m definitely willing to take on that role. I’m excited about that challenge and looking forward to that opportunity.”
While St. Louis and Stamkos have emerged as the leading candidates for captain, the one who will inevitably don the “C” on their sweater won’t be named until the end of the month and is another reason why St. Louis mentioned he’s getting ready mentally and physically simply for the season ahead.
“We’ll see what direction they go,” he said.
A NEW BEGINNING FOR VAL
Seen sporting Bolts blue today, the weeks ahead will be crucial for new Lightning center Valtteri Filppula in his transition to the team.
“Exhibition games are going to be really important for me to get to know my linemates and teammates better on the ice,” he said.
Filppula also noted it will be interesting to play the Red Wings only a few months removed from their lineup, but it will also serve as a good measuring stick of where Tampa Bay is at in their development.
A lot of changes, including himself, surround Lightning head coach Cooper and company, but it’s those very differences that gave a noticeably upbeat atmosphere on Day 1.
“Enthusiasm is a great word,” said Cooper. “Everybody’s got a little jump in their step.
“There’s a new coaching staff; I think the vets are invigorated because this is kind of a new era I suppose and there’s a crop of young talent that the organization hasn’t seen in quite some time.”
He also did his part in addressing a word that surfaced around the concourse today too – rebuilding.
“If you finish in the bottom half of the standings you’re rebuilding, if you finish in the top half of the standings your reloading. It all kind of means the same thing,” said Cooper.
“Everybody’s got the same common goal.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Forward Matt Carle entered camp looking svelte, as his physique was noticeably more defined since season’s end last campaign.
Blueliners Brian Lee and Mattias Ohlund, both with knee surgery, are the only Lightning teammates that have not been cleared for skating.
Netminder Eric Brassard, an invitee who appeared in 28 games with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL last season, is expected to be on the ice tomorrow. The 18-year-old left Saturday’s game of the 2013 Prospects Tournament after falling hard on his left arm with under a minute remaining in the second period.
With 62 players attending camp, coach Cooper and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, who was also on hand to speak with the media today, both said the competition level will be high and that’s exactly the type of competition they want to see.
The players weren’t the only ones enthusiastic about getting back to work, as Cooper showed his playful side by asking if his media availability was called the State of the Union.