Tampa Bay Lightning
Veilleux, Lightning squabble over doctor's bill
TAMPA - An end-of-the-season physical performed by Tampa Bay doctors revealed Lightning forward Stephane Veilleux suffered from damage to his right shoulder that requires postseason surgery. But when it happened, or more importantly how, has the Lightning claiming they are not financially responsible to cover the costs of the procedure, according to Veilleux's agent, Allan Walsh. Veilleux is scheduled to be operated on by Anthony Miniaci on Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to treat a spinoglenoid cyst, which compresses a nerve in the shoulder resulting in a loss of strength. The cyst could be the result of a torn labrum in the shoulder. There is no debate from either side as to whether the surgery is required, a recommendation the team confirmed was made by team doctors upon the medical examination on April 12. Walsh, however, said the team is unwilling to cover the costs of the procedure based on uncertainty as to whether the injury is hockey-related based on a conversation Monday with interim general manager Tom Kurvers, who is filling the role while the team looks to replace Brian Lawton.But Walsh said Velleiux, 28, was cleared upon his postseason exam in Minnesota following the 2008-09 season and was cleared by Tampa Bay medical staff before opening training camp this season after signing a one-year contract as a free agent during the summer. At some point between the start of the season and the end, Walsh said, the damage was suffered and without evidence to the contrary on the team's part that it was something other than hockey-related, it should be covered by the team. Veilleux is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. "In all my years in this business, I have never seen an NHL team with such total lack of respect for the health and well being of one of their own," Walsh said. "Here is a player with integrity, honor and a strong work ethic which is being completely abandoned by the team he played for this year." The team did not respond directly to claims they are unwilling to pay for the medical procedure, instead issuing a statement through Kurvers. "Per club policy, we are not inclined to discuss specifics with any player's injury, its treatment, or circumstances surrounding the injury publicly," Kurvers said. "Stephane is a valued member of the Lightning organization and we fully intend on providing any necessary medical care as dictated by the Collection Bargaining Agreement."
Reporter Erik Erlendsson can be reached at (813) 259-7835