Members of the Mississippi Sea Wolves front office recently sat down with the Sun Herald to discuss the state of the team as it begins the process of preparing for its second season back in the Coast Coliseum since Hurricane Katrina.
During the interview, the Sea Wolves front office briefly discussed the future of a continued affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning:
(tampabaylightning.com) Tampa Bay Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced today that John Tortorella will not return next season as the teamâ€™s head coach. Tortorella has one season remaining on his contract.
(tampabaylightning.com) The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Alexandre Picard and signed defenseman Kevin Quick, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced. Picard, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on February 25, signed a multi-year, one-way deal, while Quick received a multi-year, two-way contract.
Lost between the cracks of the John Tortorella/Oren Koules fiasco, the Lightning have reached an agreement with defenseman prospect Kevin Quick on an entry level deal. The word broke Saturday on Erik Erlendsson's blog. Quick played 18 games for Norfolk of the AHL last season on an ATO contract after being dismissed from the University of Michigan.
Carter Gaddis and Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reported in this morning's paper that the rumors are indeed true and that Head Coach John Tortorella will be fired once new owner Oren Koules takes control of the team within the next month. Rumors have been swirling for over a week now that Koules wants Tortorella replaced with former Kings bench boss and ESPN analyst Barry Melrose.
Call me crazy, but forcing out the winningest American born coach in league history for a guy who was 20-some games under .500 coaching in the NHL in his career and hasn't been behind the bench of an NHL team since 1994-95 doesn't strike me as an upgrade. Throw in the fact that Melrose was rumored to have an expanded say in personnel decisions late in his tenure in LA and the sharp drop off the face of the planet that team experienced after their Finals appearance in 1992-93 and you can officially color me scared now. Also, the idea that's been floated in the Canadian media, if true, that Koules is making this decision to try to market the sport of hockey more heavily to Tampa's supposed naive rubes (you know, the ones who happened to be in the top-10 in attendance league-wide over the past three seasons) also shows that Koules has a frighteningly limited understanding of the Lightning fan base and the Tampa Bay market as well. This isn't a town that needs to be sold on hockey, this is a town that supports its team and needs competent leadership to get their club back to the summit while Vincent Lecavalier is still in his prime. I'll give Koules the benefit of the doubt, and that the biased northern hockey media which still can't comprehend how the Lightning and Hurricanes came out of that terrible Southeast Division to snatch hockey's holy grail out from under their oh-so-entitled thumbs in two of the past four seasons is simply freelancing by reporting that as rationale on this move (when it's really just a buddy-hire, which is not better, but less offensive, at least).
It also doesn't strike me as terribly professional that the split has been handled this way. Perhaps that's an unfortunate function of the sale of the team, but going back to the way the deadline deals were handled there's an ominous trend developing of the Lightning hockey operations being conducted through the media with Koules' fingerprints all over the moves. Are you the Mark Cuban of the NHL, or the Daniel Snyder, Mr. Koules? Hell, neither one of them have won a championship, so does it even really matter? I could be wrong, but I can't imagine the Red Wings ever airing their dirty laundry out in public like this.
Damian Crisdotero of the St. Pete Times is reporting that Bolt Prospects alumnus Evgeny Artyukhin has agreed in principle to a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. Artyukhin will sign the contract on July 1st once he is legally eligible to sign under the rules of the CBA. The hulking forward spent the past two seasons with Yaroslavl, Omsk, and CSKA of the Russian Superleague. He last played in North America in 2005-2006 when he appeared in 72 games for the Lightning and potted 4 goals to go along with 17 points and 90 penalty minutes.
After a couple of months of rumors indicating he might go back to Europe, Eurohockey.net is reporting that Lightning prospect Marek Kvapil has signed with Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga for next season. Kvapil, 23, struggled the past two seasons to reach the promise he showed as a rookie in 2005-2006 when he scored 18 goals and 45 points in 79 games with the Springfield Falcons. Plagued by inconsistent effort and turnovers in the neutral zone, Kvapil languished in the ECHL for half of last season with the Mississippi Sea Wolves. Kvapil's decision is the first of a string of prospect roster moves to come in the next couple of months. Bolt Prospects' Chad Schnarr will have more on Johan Harju, Mitch Fadden, and Dane Crowley in the coming week.
The golf cart had a dashboard like a Lexus, headlamps and a top speed of about 45 clicks, which was all right because it also had seatbelts. Best of all, it was equipped with satellite radio that softly filled the spring air with new rock.
Al Czervik would have been proud.
You remember Al? He was the plaid-panted, brash but likable real-estate tycoon in Caddyshack played by Rodney Dangerfield, whose golf bag had a built-in stereo that blasted Journey all over Bushwood Country Club.
For the rest of the story, which includes potential titles for Barrie and rumored partner Oren Koules, as well as examples of Barrie's business style, Click Here (Victoria Times-Colonist).
At the end of one period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals, Pittsburgh has Philadelphia on the brink of elimination leading 2-0 in the game and 3-1 in the series. If this is the Flyers' final game of the season, Bolt Prospects would like to take this opportunity to thank the Lightning's long time rivals. Part of the Vaclav Prospal for Alexandre Picard swap made at the deadline was a conditional pick with the Lightning receiving a 2nd round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft if the Flyers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. So Flyers fans, don't look at the beat down you're catching from the Pens as a total loss. At least you're helping the Lightning's cause. Tampa Bay will have multiple second round picks for the first time since the 2003 NHL Entry Draft with the very real possibility of having three top-60 picks for the first time since the 1995 NHL Entry Draft (when there were only 26 teams in the league). So, while Steve Stamkos' impending selection at #1 overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft may be the Lightning's most important single draft pick in a decade, next year's 2009 NHL Entry Draft is shaping up to potentially be its most important draft overall since 1998 in terms of organizational depth and strength.
Note that, as Bolt Prospects pointed out at the All-Star Break, about 7 in 10 NHL players who have made the league from the 2002 NHL Entry Draft forward came from the top-60 picks. The Lightning had the third least top-60 picks over the same time period with just 7. So, for the Lightning, 2009 appears to be a golden opportunity to replenish the system and augment the successes the Lightning have already had in the later rounds of the draft beyond pick 100.