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Lack of progress could lead to deals

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 16, 2002


BRANDON -- General manager Jay Feaster said if the Lightning is not in the thick of the playoff hunt deep into the season, extensive personnel changes likely will be made.

BRANDON -- General manager Jay Feaster said if the Lightning is not in the thick of the playoff hunt deep into the season, extensive personnel changes likely will be made.

Feaster will not put the entire team on the trading block. But he apparently would be willing to deal whoever does not pull his weight.

"I feel strongly that if with this group of people we don't accomplish what we need to accomplish, we need to take a long, hard look at a lot of people," Feaster said Sunday "It's not so much about jettisoning people, but maybe it will be time to talk to other teams that are interested in certain players."

Right wing Martin St. Louis said the sentiment is fair.

"How long are you going to wait?" he said. "It's a winning business. If you don't make changes, it shows you're not doing everything you can to make the playoffs."

Feaster said this is not bluster from a GM trying to gain an edge. He said contracts signed during the summer were kept to one and two years in part to give him flexibility.

"It is so much easier to ask someone to make deals when you aren't asking them to take on a long-term contract," Feaster said. "It's the second question they ask. The first question is, 'How much is he making this year?' The second question is, 'Is this his last year?"'

Feaster said he likes the chemistry that has developed among the players and believes they can make the leap from last season's 69 points to the 85-88 they will need to contend for the playoffs.

At the same time, he said, "We have $2-million players and guys knocking at the door of $2-million. We need to elevate our play consistent with those kinds of contracts we have rewarded guys with. If it doesn't happen, we have to say, 'Maybe we need to look at the personnel even deeper.'

"We believe we have the right group. But if it isn't, we have to find what the right group is."

TAYLOR'S RECOVERY: He is one of the quickest players in the taxing after-practice skates, and he looked good in Sunday's scrimmage when swinging around the net to get off a shot.

But center Tim Taylor is playing with a torn right groin that hasn't fully healed.

Taylor, 33, one of the team's best faceoff men, missed 34 games last season after the muscles tore off the hip bone. He said a reconnection would require surgery. Taylor said the recovery would take so long, he would have considered retiring.

Taylor said scar tissue is filling the gap and exercise has strengthened the muscles.

"It's healed the best it can be," Taylor said.

SCRIMMAGES: Center Brad Richards had a hat trick and left wing Dmitry Afanasenkov had a goal and two assists in the White's 7-3 victory over the Black. ... Right wing Ben Clymer and defenseman Jassen Cullimore had two goals in the Blue's 7-3 victory over the Red. ... Every team is 1-1. ... Richards, St. Louis and left wing Andre Roy lead with five points. Roy has five assists. ... Clymer leads with four goals.

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