THE LIGHTNING INSIDER
The tuxes being handed out in the Lightning locker room today can only mean one thing – Glitz & Sticks is approaching! If you haven’t been to the Lightning Foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year (this Thursday night), you’re missing out. At no other time during the year will you have a chance for more quality time with the Lightning players as they spend the evening dealing at blackjack tables, spinning roulette wheels and generally hanging out with the fans.
Also, the food and drinks are fantastic, and the Lightning Foundation saves all of its best auction items for this night. One of the favorites is the player baskets, containing personal items supplied by each of the Bolts. For all the rock fans, I took a sneak peek and saw a Fender guitar autographed by Three Days Grace in Brad Lukowich’s basket.
Today was a quick day for the team, as is usually the case on the day before a game. John Tortorella likes to get them out of the rink as early as possible, so a one-hour skate was all that was on the agenda. The practice started on a lighter note with the players forced to execute a passing drill while holding their sticks backward (righties had to play lefty), and there was also a little “monkey in the middle” before the drills started.
Dan Boyle actually participated in some of the drills today, making some passes while still not being able to fully grip his stick. Near the end of the practice, Tortorella once again emphasized his early-season buzzword of “battles” by letting the players fight it out with some five-on-five work. The hitting was intense - as was the coach - a good sign for tomorrow night when the Panthers visit.
In his comments to the media today one of the subjects discussed by Tortorella was defenseman Filip Kuba, who seemed to struggle at times during the preseason but has been better in the first two games.
“Yes, Kuba had a career year last year, but we know he can do more and we’re asking more of him,” Tortorella said.
Following practice, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio was on the bench interviewing players for her television show, “The Mayor’s Hour.” Mayor Iorio has visited the team each of the past three seasons, and today she interviewed Lightning GM Jay Feaster and several players, including Brad Richards and Vinny Lecavalier.
****Shameless plug warning****
Thanks to Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries, a new food vendor in the St. Pete Times Forum who supplied lunch for the players, coaches, trainers, media etc. at practice today. How come I didn’t know about this place before?
The team will have their usual 10:30 skate tomorrow morning in preparation for Game 1 of the eight-game series with Florida.