Tampa Bay Lightning
Richards declines offer to rejoin Lightning
TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Lightning's pursuit of former Bolt and 2004 playoff MVP Brad Richards appears to have come up short. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman met with Richards and his agent, Pat Morris, at the offices of Newport Sports Management outside of Toronto on Friday afternoon to make a pitch to the most sought-after free agent available on the market. But Richards called Yzerman back later Friday to let him know he wouldn't be returning to the Lightning. "(Richards) indicated to me that he won't be coming to Tampa," Yzerman told the Tampa Tribune Friday evening."When you look at the way today is going, we are not in the position to compete with (other offers). We're just not, unfortunately, and there is just too big of a difference. So, I appreciated him getting back to me. It was a very considerate thing of them to get back to me so quickly." Meanwhile, Yzerman's quest to re-sign Steven Stamkos continues. While at the Newport offices, Yzerman also met with Mark Guy, the agent for Stamkos who also works for the sports agency. While it appeared that no sort of breakthrough was made in talks to sign the Lightning's 21-year-old All-Star center, Yzerman said the negotiations continue to take place. "They are good," Yzerman said as he exited the offices. "All through the process, in speaking with them they are all very professional and we both have Steven's best interests at heart and we'll reach a deal at some point, I hope. "As I've said all along, it's our goal to get him signed to a contract and that's still our goal, and I have no reason to be other than optimistic that we'll get that done." Yzerman spent about an hour speaking to Richards and his representatives hoping to land Richards, who was originally a third-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 1998 and was a big part of the team's Stanley Cup title run in 2004. "I just let him know where we are coming from and what we are trying to do in Tampa and give him as much information as I could," Yzerman told television crews outside the Newport offices. "He's obviously very sought-after and he's got several good options and he'll make the best decision he can. He's a bright guy and I know he'll put a lot of thought into this." Richards also met face-to-face with contingents from the Los Angeles Kings, who gave a 90-minute presentation, and the Toronto Maple Leafs while conference calls were held with Calgary, the New York Rangers and Buffalo. After eight seasons with the Lightning, Richards was traded to Dallas on trade deadline day in 2008 for a deal that brought Tampa Bay goaltender Mike Smith, center Jeff Halpern and winger Jussi Jokinen. Halpern and Jokinen were traded away previously and on Friday Smith signed a free-agent contract with Phoenix.