Informal Practice Notebook: Day 3
The Tampa Bay Lightning continued to work out in Brandon on Wednesday, holding informal on-ice sessions and scrimmages in front of attending fans.
Wednesday’s on-ice action saw more of the same as has gone in the past two days, although today did feature a few new faces, most notably Victor Hedman, Anders Lindback and Brendan Mikkelson. Here are some of the key takeaways:
THE TWIN TOWERS
The highlight of Wednesday was having both Victor Hedman and Anders Lindback back in Brandon with the team. Hedman skated with the rest of his teammates, while Lindback did not skate, although he said he plans on taking the ice tomorrow.
Both expressed their excitement to be back in town and to be back in the room with the guys, although perhaps more importantly, each commented on how much playing in Europe over the past few months helped their games.
Hedman, for one, logged significant minutes and even earned time playing on the power play, which helped improve his confidence with the puck and increased his comfort level in the offensive zone. While in the KHL, Hedman recorded a goal and 20 points in 26 games and said he now feels as if he is a better player entering the upcoming season.
“It wasn’t too hard to wake up this morning because I was just so eager to see everyone again,” Hedman said. “It felt really good to get back on the ice here and feel that pace again.”
Lindback, meanwhile, did not skate on Wednesday but is looking forward to taking the ice with the rest of his new teammates on Thursday. He said that his right knee, which was hit by a puck while playing in Europe, is “completely fine” and that is he ready to go. After being in town for about three weeks before the lockout, Lindback had a chance to meet all of his new teammates and said he feels comfortable in his new surroundings already, although like the rest of the club, is anxious to start playing.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this chance. This is a great opportunity to be a starting goaltender here and I feel like we have a great team, so I’m looking forward to start playing some games.”
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Steven Stamkos mentioned Tuesday in Brandon that both he and former Lightning forward Steve Downie spent some time during the lockout playing hockey in Stamkos’ father’s pick-up league back home in Toronto.
The league was a men’s recreational league that varied in age just as much as it did skill. There were, he said, some guys there who were 22-years-old and others who were as old as 65.
It was all just for fun, of course, and Stamkos said he did enjoy setting his old man up for a few goals, but that it was also fun for some of the other amateurs in the league to have the opportunity to skate with a couple of NHL stars.
Sad news struck the hockey world Tuesday afternoon after the action in Brandon had concluded, as it was reported that the wife of former Lightning forward Dominic Moore had passed away after succumbing to liver cancer.
Katie, 32, often frequented the Tampa Bay Times Forum since the start of the 2010-11 season to see her husband play with the Bolts prior to his trade to the San Jose Sharks in February.
On Tuesday, the Sharks released a statement offering their thoughts and prayers, as did many other outlets and individuals within the hockey community.
The Lightning themselves tweeted a heartfelt message from the team’s official Twitter account, @TBLightning, that read: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dominic Moore following the loss of his wife.”
THIS AND THAT
The American Hockey League released the names of coaches who were selected to serve behind the bench for this year’s AHL All-Star Game. Among them was Jon Cooper, whose Syracuse Crunch team, the Lightning’s top minor-league affiliate, currently posts a 22-7-2-3 record which is good for a league-best 49 points.
Speaking of All-Star nods, Victor Hedman said on Wednesday that he has no regrets about foregoing the opportunity to play in the KHL All-Star Game, electing to return to Tampa Bay instead to begin practicing with teammates in preparation of the upcoming NHL season.
“It was a big honor to get nominated for the game, but this [Tampa Bay] is where I belong and where I want to be,” Hedman said. “As soon as I heard that we were starting again I was on the phone booking my flight.”