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Ex-Lightning GM holds cards

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2003

NASHVILLE - Panthers general manager Rick Dudley loves the spotlight.

Already the only GM to trade a No. 1 pick, he might do it for a third time today. The Flyers, Avalanche, Penguins, Kings and Bruins reportedly are interested.

"I enjoy this kind of stuff," said Dudley, who traded the top pick in 1999 with the Lightning and in 2002 with Florida. "I don't have control over the draft, but if there is someone who wants a certain player, the only way to get that player, for sure, is to go through us."

That player is goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Dudley said three of the five teams to which he is speaking want Fleury, who was named best goaltender at the 2003 world junior championships.

With Roberto Luongo solid in Florida's net, Dudley can deal from strength and immediately make his team better. He said there is a 60 percent chance he will trade.

Still, he said doing so will be difficult because "there are some very special people in this draft. ... At the top, there are some fine hockey players who are going to play in this league a long time."

"He's having a lot of fun, and he's good at it," Canucks general manager Brian Burke said. "He's a master of the situation. It's not fair. He ends up getting the guys he wants and someone else. He shouldn't be able to draft first ever."

REDUCTION PROGRAM: Director of operations Colin Campbell said the league wants to cut down on the height of goalie pads. There is no standard.

"We've had pads up to 44 inches," he said. "Another 4 inches, and they are touching the crossbar. That's the ridiculousness of it."

Campbell said the move, as well as a discussed crackdown on oversized chest protectors, is part of a quest to increase scoring chances.

"How hard are we going to be and how much teeth are we going to put in it?" Campbell said. "We have the ability to fine teams and suspend goaltenders. At the end of the day, that's what we have to do."

LITTLE ST. LOUIS: Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis and wife Heather had their first child June 13. Ryan Martin St. Louis was 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 211/2 inches at birth. "It puts things in perspective," St. Louis said. "This is the most important thing in my life."

OVERHEARD: The Lightning made inquiries about Stars defenseman Richard Matvichuk, but they went nowhere. ... It sounds as if Mighty Ducks GM Bryan Murray has given up on bringing Teemu Selanne back from the Sharks. Asked if he was going to give his payroll a bump, Murray said, "We're not going to bump anywhere."

END QUOTE: "Lines in the water, but it's a lazy day in the fishing hole."

- GM Jay Feaster on potential Lightning trades.

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