TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning are in no rush to name a new captain. They don’t expect to do so until training camp breaks at the end of September.
The captaincy became vacant when the team bought out the contract of franchise icon Vinny Lecavalier, who had held the leadership role since 2008 in his second go-around as team captain.
The top candidates to wear the captain’s “C’ on his jersey this season are Marty St. Louis, the longest tenured player on the roster, and C Steven Stamkos, who figures to be the face of the franchise for years to come.
The coaching staff, which is new this season with head coach Jon Cooper and assistants Rick Bowness and George Gwozdecky, wants to let the situation play out through training camp, general manager Steve Yzerman said.
“We don’t want to turn it into a bit of a sideshow, that’s not our intention,’’ Yzerman said. “We have a lot of new faces, a new coaching staff and we want to let the leadership group evolve. We have a plan and we’ll name the captains at the end of camp right before the season starts.’’
St. Louis is concentrating on getting through training camp and the preseason, not on whether he will be named captain. Stamkos said the dynamic of the leadership group won’t change, regardless of who is named captain.
“It’s a letter that goes on your jersey and it’s an honor to have it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the only guy allowed to speak up or be a leader on the team,’’ Stamkos said. “I don’t think that’s going to change this group at all.’’
D Matt Carle and Gwozdecky were reunited when the longtime University of Denver head coach was hired by Tampa Bay this summer.
Carle played three seasons under Gwozdecky at Denver from 2003-06, winning NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005 before heading to the NHL with the San Jose.
“It will be a fun experience to go through the grind of an NHL season with him,’’ Carle said. “It’s been seven years since I was playing for him and that’s a pretty long window to go, and I’m sure this time around will be a lot different. I’m a lot older, and he is, too.
“So, I think it will be fun. I’ve joked around with him more when I saw him before camp than I did the three years I played for him.’’
D Brian Lee, who had surgery this summer to repair a torn ACL that occurred during the American Hockey League playoffs last season, has resumed skating but has not been cleared to resume full on-ice activities.
The injury did not happen on a particular play, Lee said, but was the result of a gradual wearing down over the past few years. The former No. 9 overall pick in 2005 by Ottawa, Lee started last season with Tampa Bay, but struggled. In 22 games, he failed to record a point and was minus-13 before being placed on waivers and finishing the season with Syracuse. The 26-year-old has one year remaining on his contract.
“For the last five years it’s been bothering me, “ Lee said of his knee. “And I’m sure when you are thinking about something all the time, it’s going to effect you, wondering if it’s going to hold up or not, if it’s going to be sore for that game or that period or whatever.”
Nuts and Bolts
D Mattias Ohlund and Lee are the only players not cleared to skate during camp. ...G Eric Brassard, who injured his triceps muscle during last week’s rookie tournament in Coral Springs, is expected to be on the ice when practices starts Thursday. ...C Mike Angelidis reported to camp, but is set to leave at a moments notice to be with his wife, Lenna, who is at the couple’s home in Toronto expecting their first child, a girl. Angelidis expects to be away from camp for about three days. The official due date is Sept. 21.