Tampa Bay Lightning
Bolts' Lawton: Despite sale reports, no plans to trade Vinny
WASHINGTON - With all kinds of reports circulating in regards to a potential sale of the Lightning, including one suggesting moving captain Vinny Lecavalier as part of any sale to prospective owner Jeffrey Vinik, Tampa Bay general manager Brian Lawton on Sunday squelched some of what has been reported. Late last week, The Hockey News broke a story about the team being sold to Vinik, who is a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox, but under the mandate to shed payroll with Lecavalier at the top of the list of players to be moved. "We have no plans on doing anything," Lawton said before Sunday's game. "I have no plans and I haven't approached him. Vinny is playing very well after a slow start and he needs to continue to play well and even pick it up. That should be the focus and quite frankly we're sorry that he has to even read other things, but there is nothing we can do about it. It's a free country, and we respect that. "We're not very happy about it. Everybody has the right to free speech but we are not very happy about when it is detrimental to our team. And it's so erroneous and baseless that at some point you wonder where is the accountability. It's the same people who write the same stuff. It's the same people who put Vinny Lecavalier on the front page of their newspaper in a Montreal jersey (last season)."Lecavalier, who holds a no-trade/no-movement clause in his contract, once again finds his name churning through the rumor mill even though he's going nowhere without his approval. "It's just stuff in the newspapers, I don't really listen to it," Lecavalier said. Washington played without Mike Green, who leads all defensemen with 52 points, as he sat out the first game of a three-game suspension for a flagrant elbow delivered to Florida's Michael Frolik during Friday's game. Though Washington still has major fire power in its lineup, the absence of Green is something that alters the Capitals' attack. "His puck possession, he has the puck on his stick a lot," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said of Green. "He's one of those defensemen who are forecheck breakers, where he can get the puck, shake a guy and make a pass. Where a lot of teams have to use a D-to-D pass and then to a center to get the puck out of the zone, with Mike Green he only needs one pass and it makes it tough to forecheck. So that's the thing that you try to take advantage of when they don't have their quarterback back there." Since Jim Johnson replaced Darren Rumble as head coach of Norfolk, Tampa Bay's American Hockey League affiliate, the Admirals have been on a roll. They finished a seven-game trip with a 6-0-1 record, capped by Sunday's 2-1 shootout victory in Bridgeport, N.Y. "For a team that was six games below .500 and one win in 11 games, we needed to change it up a little bit and catch our breath," Lawton said. C Paul Szczechura was sent to Norfolk on Sunday for what is being called a conditioning assignment. Szczechura, who was dropped to fourth-line duty during Friday's game, has two goals and three points this season while playing a third-line role. "Paul just needs to give us a bigger contribution. We love that he's a right-handed shot, we love that he can skate and he's got some offensive ability, it just has to come out in the number of minutes he's getting," Lawton said.