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As you’ve probably heard or read by now, Vincent Lecavalier
received the much-deserved honor of being named captain today. The announcement was made via press release during the scrimmage this morning, which Vinny sat out as a precaution.
Vinny was humble as always when he met with the media a short time later.
“There are a lot of great leaders on this team,” Lecavalier said from the podium in the Lightning media room. “I don’t think you need a letter on your sweater to be a leader, but it’s definitely a great honor to be captain.”
Now to the camp’s first scrimmage which took place at 10:45 this morning. Good crowd, good action, … good to see some hockey again! It became clear immediately that it wouldn’t be boring, with White’s Zenon Konopka and Black’s Evgeny Artyukhin squaring off only two minutes in. Both threw several punches but neither guy could be designated a clear winner in the bout, which the linesmen appeared hesitant to try to stop. Konopka, at 6 feet tall, told the media after that he knows he only has a short time to make an impression. When asked if he just wanted to go after the biggest guy on the ice Konopka replied “Yeah, pretty much.”
Konopka went on to say that he’s not here to make friends and as far as he’s concerned only Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis
are off limits in the scrimmages. Matt Smaby and Shane O’Brien also got into tussles with Konopka during the game.
As for the rest of the scrimmage, the hits were flying as the Wes Walz-coached Team White defeated Cap Raeder’s Team Black, 2-0, thanks to goals by Paul Szczechura (slapshot) and Gary Roberts (deflection).
Roberts was on the receiving end of a big hit by Michel Ouellet early, and Roberts returned the favor later by running Ouellet into his own bench. Vladimir Mihalik provided the loudest hit of the game, but most of the noise was from the 6-foot-7 defenseman hitting the glass when he tried to nail 6-foot-4 Artyukhin. The glass bent back so far on the hit, some of the fans in the front row looked concerned for their safety.
After the scrimmage Coach Barry Melrose, who was happy with the physical atmosphere, singled out goaltender Karri Ramo, Mihalik, Szczechura and defenseman Matt Carle for their play, as well as Konopka.
“He came here to make the team and doesn’t care if he has to knock out a veteran to do it,” Melrose said.