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Rookie Tournament Notebook - September 5

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning rookies have landed in Coral Springs, Florida this evening to prepare for the Florida Panthers rookie tourney, which begins today.

Before the 24 prospects hit the road, Andrej Sustr and Vladislav Namestnikov talked about how, as veterans, they're not only more comfortable with their situation, but their role has transformed into that of leader this year.


Suiting up for two games last year with Tampa Bay, Sustr feels at ease about this year's rookie camp.

"I think it's a little bit easier for me compared to these other guys," Sustr said. "I know a lot of the guys who are on the team and on the staff and I definitely feel more comfortable."

With a lot at stake for every prospect, he's not worried about the team keeping their composure this weekend, despite just two short practices.

"It's a short time. Everyone's playing for a spot, getting ready for training camp. Everyone wants to show off what they can do," Sustr said.

Namestnikov is also familiar with how camp runs and is expecting to offer his services.

"If they have any questions, they can ask," Namestnikov said. "I'm going to try to lead the on-ice drills and go first. Just set an example."


Lightning head coach Jon Cooper also watched on at today's camp.

He explained that one thing he tries to come in and do at rookie camp is relax the Bolts prospects and let them know the experience isn't just a short-term venture.

"You almost have to calm them down, because they're nervous, they're excited and they want to do their best to impress," Cooper said. "This isn't just their three days then they're out of the organization. This is long term development for them."


Today's practice was split into two sessions, with the second being a mini scrimmage as half the rookies sported white sweaters and the others blue.

Friday's bout will feature the Bolts rookies versus the Boston Bruins prospects in a game slated for 2 p.m. at Iceplex.

The mood was light while on the bus ride headed to Coral Springs. Coaches even poked a little fun as they told the players they were in charge of keeping track of their teammates after a pit stop on the way.

When a rookie did a head count and said he counted 25 players, coaches chuckled and said "good, we picked up one more on the way," as the total number of prospects making the trip is only 24.


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