St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Lightning

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Quinn's calm is rewarded

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 4, 2002

TORONTO -- Lightning director of player personnel Bill Barber admires the way Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn handled his team's early season struggles.

When Toronto's media and fans called for a trade, Quinn stuck with his players. Now, after Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win over Tampa Bay, Toronto has won eight of 10 and is over .500 (12-11-2) for the first time since winning its opener. "He was the only one who downplayed things and believed," Barber said while watching the Lightning's morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. "If you don't believe in the players, how are they going to believe in themselves?"

Barber wants Tampa Bay's fans and media to keep that in mind as the Lightning tries to shake a 1-4-1 slump.

"There are always areas every team can improve on, and if there's something that can be done to stabilize the team more than it is, then I'm sure it would be discussed," he said when asked about trade possibilities.

"But we as management, and the coaching staff, believe in this team, and we're sure as hell not going to shove some buttons we shouldn't be shoving. Give these guys a chance and let them play."

Barber said he is wary of rumors.

"To start stuff and say we're looking for this or that is not the case," he said. "I think that totally destroys everything the coaching staff has worked hard to build."

And remember, Barber said, it wasn't long ago, Tampa Bay was 7-1-2.

"Give these players some credit and admire what the coaching staff has brought together," he said. "I don't know why you lose a couple of games and everybody starts to panic. Come on. If there wasn't honesty in this team's play, then you have concerns, and that's not the case."

CULLY STILL OUT: Defenseman Jassen Cullimore missed his third consecutive game with a strained left shoulder. Cullimore, who said the shoulder has been painful all season, will be evaluated today or Thursday before a timetable for his return is set.

"It's frustrating," he said. "This is where we want to be as a team. To be out now is not where I want to be."

NO EXCUSES: Center Brad Richards, whose turnover Sunday led to the winning goal in the Rangers' 4-3 victory, took full blame.

"I know what to do in that situation but I didn't do it," he said. "I've been in the league three years and I know that play. Chip it off the glass and out. I wasn't patient."

ODDS AND ENDS: Center Vinny Lecavalier played his 329th game, passing Brian Bradley for sixth in team history. ... Right wing Sheldon Keefe and forward Brian Holzinger were scratched. ... Toronto was without left wing Shayne Corson (groin).

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