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by Lightning Insider / Tampa Bay Lightning

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Today was a fun day for the team as well as the 400 or so members of local chambers of commerce who turned out for the team’s annual chamber luncheon. Actually, calling it a luncheon is a bit misleading, because the Lightning don’t make fans sit at a table and eat roast beef for an hour while they wait for the chance to get a minute to chat with their favorite player. Instead, the ice at the St. Pete Times Forum is covered and players are assigned to different stations where fans can chat, take pictures and get autographs. Food and drinks are provided, and everyone has a good time

After listening to short speeches by owner Oren Koules and head coach Barry Melrose, those in attendance today had the chance to meet newest acquisition Lukas Krajicek inside the Lightning locker room, hang out with Evgeny Artyukhin in the visitors’ locker room, take a slapshot on the ice with Jussi Jokinen or meet Steven Stamkos in the XO VIP Club. They also could visit a photo station with David Koci and Ada Hall, learn about the Zamboni from Chris Gratton and Ryan Craig or learn how to put on goalie pads with Mike Smith. All players except the injured Paul Ranger and Jeff Halpern participated, with the longest autograph lines belonging to Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Stamkos.

Prior to the event the team went through an energetic one-hour workout on the ice, which included a focus on battling for the puck. Players were paired off along the boards and forced to battle for the puck simulating game conditions. Luckily for some the pairings were made using size considerations so Artyukhin and Koci went head to head.

“We are brutal at winning battles,” Melrose said. “Little battles are what win big games.”

Singled out for praise by Melrose was defenseman Mike Lundin, who was scratched for the first game in Prague but played the last two.

“Lundin has been the best defensemen for us the past two games.  He realizes he’s not the biggest or strongest guy out there.  He uses his stick and body positioning.  He is a smart kid.”

Melrose also said Ranger is seeing a doctor this afternoon before a decision can be made to put him in the lineup. If all goes well he could possibly make his debut Thursday against the Islanders.

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