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Other state cities may host preseason games

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 28, 2003

TAMPA - In an attempt to expand its market, the Lightning may play future preseason games in Lakeland, Orlando and Pensacola.

"It's something we've talked about, and from a hockey operations standpoint we are not averse to it," general manager Jay Feaster said.

Tampa Bay markets in Orlando, it used to train in Lakeland, and the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL are a Tampa Bay affiliate.

Frank Milne, Ice Pilots director of operations, said the Lightning would be welcome:

"They're pretty popular. We get their games on radio and TV. They've got quite a following. When the affiliation was announced, we had a lot of people in the community who said, "That's great."'

Lightning coach John Tortorella favors playing in Pensacola but has concerns about facilities in the state that do not have a regular hockey presence.

"I'm a little concerned about ice surface and injury if you try to throw something together and get some ice on it," Tortorella said. "If it isn't a stable building that isn't being used for some sort of hockey team, it scares me trying to play an exhibition game there.

"I'm not a marketer. I'm a coach, and I'm concerned about the health of the club."

BOYLE UPDATE: Defenseman Dan Boyle said the contusion under his collarbone sustained during Thursday's game against the Hurricanes is "really painful." He said it is "day to day" whether he will play again during preseason.

Tortorella and head medical trainer Tommy Mulligan said Boyle might be able to play at Ottawa and Sunrise to wrap up a three-game road trip this week that ends the preseason schedule.

"Two days ago I could barely move my arm," Boyle said. "(Friday) it started to come around."

Boyle was hurt in the third period when he and a Carolina player did not collide cleanly on a check.

"It was like one-third on one-third," he said. "It was my fault. I didn't hit him properly, and my body got twisted around."

Mulligan said X-rays were negative.

CHANGE OF SCENE: Tortorella will be behind the bench for the first time. He evaluated from the press box during the previous four games while associate coach Craig Ramsay ran the team.

Tortorella said he missed being part of the action.

"But you see everything," he said of being up high. "You see the intangibles."

TODAY'S LINEUP: Fowards Nikita Alexeev, Dave Andreychuk, Ben Clymer, Chris Dingman, Ruslan Fedotenko, Vinny Lecavalier, Fredrik Modin, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Cory Stillman, Alexander Svitov and Tim Taylor; defensemen Jassen Cullimore, Pavel Kubina, Janne Laukkanen, Brad Lukowich, Nolan Pratt and Cory Sarich; and goaltender John Grahame.

ODDS AND ENDS: Goalie Brian Eklund was cut and sent to AHL Hershey. He is expected to play for Pensacola. ... Twenty-nine players remain in camp. No cuts are expected until after the road trip, though players could be lost in Friday's waiver draft.

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