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Bruins holdout sparks talks

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 8, 2002

BOSTON -- Lightning general manager Jay Feaster and Bruins GM MikeO'Connell spoke Saturday about Tampa Bay's interest in Boston's Kyle McLaren.

Neither confirmed the conversation, butO'Connell said he spoke previously with Feaster about the unhappy restricted free agent who is holding out and wants a trade.

"I've spoken to Tampa Bay along with many other teams," O'Connell said. "We discussed a few things. But I've said all along, if the Bruins are going to trade Kyle McLaren, the players we get are going to have to make the Bruins better. And we have not received that."

The Lightning's interest in the hard-hitting McLaren (25, 6 feet 4, 230 pounds) sharpened because of the injury to defenseman Jassen Cullimore, out 4-6 months with a torn left rotator cuff.

Representatives from the Islanders and Canadiens also attended the game.

"We like our D, and we like the group we have," Feaster said. "At the same time, it would be disingenuous not to say that prior to the injury to Cullimore, an area we were looking to make a move, if we wanted to make a move, was on the blue line.

"The injury has drawn attention to it. It has drawn a spotlight to it, but it has not created a sense of panic in what we want to do."

O'Connell said he wants a top-four defenseman or a forward for his top two lines.

"If Kyle McLaren goes to another team, he makes them better right away, and I need to get someone who is going to step in," he said. "It's going to be the right age, who makes the right kind of money and be able to fit in with what we have here."

A SECOND LOOK: Left wing Dave Andreychuk said he played four games with a broken right big toe, in part, because X-rays did not reveal the injury. Wednesday's MRI confirmed the break that occurred Nov.23 at New Jersey, where Andreychuk was hit by a shot.

"I just felt it was going to keep getting better," Andreychuk said.

Head medical trainer Tom Mulligan said the injury, on top of the toe, made it difficult to spot and Andreychuk probably felt better playing because the skate acted as a cast.

The 39-year-old captain also wanted to play in his old stomping grounds of Buffalo and Toronto. But the toe was hit by a puck during warmups for the Leafs game, and the discomfort increased. Even Andreychuk's father, who was at the game, told his son he could tell his play was affected.

Andreychuk is expected to be out 4-6 weeks but is with the team on its four-game road trip.

"I'm going to try to stay involved and be around the guys," Andreychuk said. "Sometimes when you get injured, you get alienated.

"This is going to help me, and I'm going to do what I can to make sure we're ready to go."

DEFENSE SHUFFLE: With defenseman Nolan Pratt day to day with dizziness and three stitches in his nose after being hit with a puck, Tampa Bay recalled Darren Rumble from AHL Springfield.

NO INSURANCE: Feaster said the Lightning did not insure Cullimore because of his durability (74 and 78 games the previous two seasons), so it is on the hook for his $1.45-million salary.

"We weighed it and balanced it," Feaster said. "And this time, I didn't get it right."

O FROM THE D: Tampa Bay has points from the defense in 15 consecutive games, one more than last season's high. The back line has nine goals and 54 points. After 27 games last season, it had six and 28.

ODDS AND ENDS: Right wing Sheldon Keefe and forward Brian Holzinger were healthy scratches. ... Martin St. Louis' two assists gave him four goals and three assists in his past six games. Dan Boyle's goal and assist gave him a goal and nine assists in his past nine games. ... Springfield defenseman Kristian Kudroc, out since the season opener with a concussion, returned Friday and fought.


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