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Captain wants others to talk

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published January 16, 2004

TAMPA - Dave Andreychuk has been conspicuous by his more frequent absences from the Lightning locker room after games.

The captain said he probably is doing reporters a favor.

"You've heard all my cliches before," he said, laughing.

Seriously, though, Andreychuk said it is part of an effort to get more players involved answering postgame questions while helping wean them from a player who, at 40, is nearing retirement.

"I've made an effort to talk to the guys about how some of them have to step up," Andreychuk said. "It seems to me it is a natural progression that is going to happen. I think they're ready."

Andreychuk has been a fixture in the postgame locker room. Other players have been as well. But Andreychuk, as captain, has more responsibility to answer questions. Sooner or later, though, that responsibility must be passed on.

"I think a lot of the guys in the room don't realize what happens there on a daily basis," Andreychuk said. "There are certain guys who are going to be taking over the leadership roles. "The guys are pretty good about it, but you have to make yourself available instead of always being asked."

Andreychuk said he told teammates they would not be stepping on his toes.

"It's all of us together," he said. "It's not just me. It's not just Tim Taylor. There are not going to be any hurt feelings if they do something in the room."

GM'S CONTRACT: General manager Jay Feaster said his talks with owner Bill Davidson and CEO Tom Wilson are "progressing" and he is "confident we're going to get things taken care of."

Feaster met with Davidson and Wilson on Wednesday in Auburn Hills, Mich. Feaster, whose contract has a team option for next season, said after he is signed, he will "move on and get the coaches taken care of ... sooner rather than later." All coaches contracts expire after the season. As for an AHL affiliate, Feaster said he is "making good progress" but "I don't know if it will happen by the end of the month."

The most likely affiliates seem to be Utah or the location Howard Baldwin finds for his inactive Louisville franchise.

BETTMAN LAUDS LIGHTNING: Commissioner Gary Bettman called the Lightning stable and praised Davidson.

"Bill made a tremendous commitment to this franchise and this city, and it hasn't, I'm sure, been easy for him at times," said Bettman, who attended Thursday's game against the Hurricanes. "But every year, the team's performance has gotten better. So they've been building it patiently in the right way."

Bettman mentioned the proposed amphitheater at the state fairgrounds and the question, still in the courts, of property taxes on the St. Pete Times Forum as issues to watch. He is expected to meet today with public officials.

Bettman said the team is stable "because of the ownership and the community has been responding with great support.

"But this isn't the time to take it for granted. ... I won't be happy until the issues involving this market have been resolved and every seat is filled for every game. That, to me, is the ultimate definition of stability."

SVITOV ALERT: Feaster said Alexander Svitov was promoted from AHL Hamilton because Tampa Bay needed to be bigger up front and the No. 3 overall pick of 2001 showed the game intensity he lacked before being sent down.

"We just got a memo and a directive this week that officials have been told again to make sure they call obstruction," Feaster said. "But it seems to me that penalty is not being called in the same way it was last year and we need to be bigger to try to combat what's going on with the clutching and grabbing."

ODDS AND ENDS: Left wing Ruslan Fedotenko needed five stitches under his right eye after being hit by a stick blade. ... Svitov, defenseman Darren Rumble and left wing Andre Roy were scratched.

[Last modified January 16, 2004, 10:33:13]

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