TAMPA — By holding training camp at The Forum, the Tampa Bay Lightning are able to utilize one sheet of ice for practice.
With 62 players on the camp roster, there are three groups to work with, and head coach Jon Cooper is on the ice for all of them. That, he said, is better than having split sessions on two sheets of ice.
“I just think it’s essential,” Cooper said. “We have 62 players, and if our staff can have an impact on those players, I think we owe it to the organization to be out there for them. I want to get to know them. I want them to get to know us, what our standard is, and the only way to do that is throw yourself in the foxhole with them.’’
Being on the ice for all three practices makes for a long day for the coaching staff. For the first two days of camp, the first practice began at 9 a.m. and the final session ended at 3:30 p.m.
The three-session format will continue through the next few days leading up to the first preseason game on Wednesday in Orlando against St. Louis. The coaching staff intends to be on the ice working closely with each group, which is better than than watching from the stands or getting reports from a simultaneous practice on a separate sheet of ice.
“I’m a believer that you have to be in there,’’ Cooper said. “I went to the rookie tournament (last weekend) and I’ve been with a lot of the American League guys and got to watch the playoff run last year. So, I’ve done a lot, but there is no better education than to be in the trenches with them.’’
The Lightning’s next captain will be announced at an invitation-only event on Oct. 1, two days before the season-opening game at Boston. Pictured on the invitation are owner Jeff Vinik, general manager Steve Yzerman, Cooper and the two leading candidates for captain: arty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. The captaincy opened up with the team bought out Vinny Lecavalier’s contract in June.
Open and streaming
The Lightning will hold open practice at the Forum on Monday and Tuesday featuring intra-squad scrimmages from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Those days were previously closed to the public. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. The team also will live stream the controlled scrimmages on the its website — www.tampabaylightning.com — with radio voice Dave Mishkin providing play-by-play.
Friday’s practice at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon also is open to the public, as well as all practices at Germain Arena in Estero from Sept. 23 to Sept. 28.
Cooper is shuffling players among the assigned work groups — G Riku Helenius and Cedrick Desjardins were moved on Friday — to put players with different amounts of NHL experience together.
“Some guys are not going to get exhibition games and we need to fill these rosters,” Cooper said. “So, we are pulling guys from all three groups to play in the games and we need to put guys in situations and see if they can keep up. As for the goaltenders, we just want to give guys different looks and it doesn’t hurt to get different guys shooting at you.’’
Nuts and Bolts
Single game tickets go on sale Saturday exclusively at the Forum box office from 8 a.m. to noon, before going on sale to the general public. ...The first round of cuts could come as early as Tuesday, but most will take place after the preseason game on Sept. 21 and before the team heads to Estero. ...The team is off on Sunday.