Lightning ships Alexander Svitov back to the AHL for his lack of game-time intensity.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published December 5, 2003
TAMPA - Alexander Svitov is out of time. NHL time, that is.
The center, whom the Lightning has tried to develop over two seasons by force feeding at the game's highest level, was sent to AHL Hamilton on Tuesday after a nonexistent effort against the Canadiens.
Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said Thursday that unless Svitov, the No.3 overall pick in the 2001 draft, learns how to consistently compete and play with energy, he can "rot in the minors."
"I don't care if it's the No.1 pick or the No.2 pick or the 250th pick," Tortorella added, "if you're not ready to play hard, and that's something youth can bring is intensity, then you can go rot in the minors. That's my mind-set right now."
Svitov, 21, had three assists and averaged 9:17 of ice time in 11 games since being called up from Hamilton on Nov.3 amid glowing reports from Bulldogs coach Doug Jarvis that lessons about bringing grit and intensity were learned.
But the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Russian has been inconsistent and against Montreal was repeatedly bumped off the puck without returning the challenge.
"A total misunderstanding of what it means to compete in this league," Tortorella said.
The coach was clear he was not talking about making mistakes during a game.
"We know young people are going to make mistakes. It's our job to help them through that," he said. "But if you don't bring energy and intensity to the game, then you can go rot in the minors as far as I'm concerned."
Svitov's agent Jay Grossman declined to respond because he said the comments "were probably an emotional statement," but added, "I think Alex can be a big part of their future. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer. He obviously has the talent."
"The organization has been very fair in trying to get this guy to play at this level because we see a tremendous future in this young man," he said. "But show me a two-way street here as far as being willing to battle and we'll help you through some of the bumps here."