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Lightning sweeps Sporting News honors

Times staff writers
Published May 26, 2004

General manager Jay Feaster was named the NHL executive of the year, John Tortorella coach of the year and wing Martin St. Louis player of the year by Sporting News.

Feaster, 41, received 12 votes from other league executives, edging Flames GM/coach Darryl Sutter by two. Tortorella also beat Sutter in a vote of coaches 9-4. St. Louis was a runaway winner, 184-29 in a players vote over Colorado's Joe Sakic.

"It's just a great thing for the organization," Feaster said. "And what's exciting is all three of those things are voted on by your peers. Those are people you're competing with every day."

Kubina will play in World Cup

Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina was named to the Czech Republic's World Cup team, to be led by Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang and goalie Tomas Vokoun. It is another feather in the cap of a player who has played in the world championships and Olympics.

"It's a great honor to be named to the national team," Kubina said. "But I'm not worried about it now. I'll worry about it in the summertime."

All teams were supposed to be named by Tuesday. Finland named Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and left wing Ville Nieminen. St. Louis and Lightning center Brad Richardswill play for Canada and left wing Fredrik Modinfor Sweden. Russia, with managerial problems, has not named a team. Because of those problems, Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulinsaid he might not play if asked.

Did he say "Tortellini'?

Remember when Flyers GM Bobby Clarke intentionally mangled Tortorella's name and called him "The Great Tortellini"? Remember when Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock kidded that one of the strikes against Tortorella was his Italian heritage? Though he has declined comment, Tortorella was upset at the jabs.

Asked if the comments merited disciplinary action, commissioner Gary Bettman said, "No comments that I've heard caught my attention, so I suppose I'll have to go back and look. The politically correct police can be effective to a point. There is emotion, excitement. I'm not sure anyone was offended or if it was an issue until I just heard your question."

Power shortage

The Lightning entered with the playoff's most productive power play, coverting five of its previous seven chances. But Tampa Bay went 1-of-5 and allowed a short-handed goal.

"The first one, no one really wanted the puck. We kept throwing it away," Richards said. "A couple of other ones, we got some shots, but the puck bounces over (Modin's) stick. That would have been a chance. But we've got to want the puck. We did that a little bit more in the third and got some chances, but a little too late."

Assessing the damage

Modin was asked if Jarome Iginla's short-handed goal with 4:39 left in the second or Stephane Yelle's tally 2:47 later was more difficult to overcome. The short answer: both.

"Every time you get scored on on the power play, it's hard," Modin said. "I thought we came back and kept playing well, creating chances. And then they get the third one. I don't know which is more devastating."

Bachelor party put on hold

Chris Dingman thought the playoffs would be over by June 3, so the Lightning left wing, who will be married July 17, planned a stag party. Whoops. Game 7, if needed, is June 7.

"Just a bunch of friends are going to go to Vegas," said Dingman, adding the party has been pushed back a week.

Scary situation

Lightning center and Montreal resident Vinny Lecavalier was asked about a report out of Montreal on Tuesday that Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore played under a death threat, resulting in increased security for Game 4 of the teams' series.

"That stuff is scary. Anyone would say that when you're dealing with a threat," Lecavalier said. "It's the first time I heard about it. Jose is such a great guy, such a competitor. I don't know why anybody would do that to him or to anybody."

Bettman pleased with attendance

Bettman said 78 of 82 playoff games before Tuesday were sold out. That was interesting because the Lightning failed to sell out three of its first five: Game 1 against the Islanders and Games 1 and 2 against the Canadiens. Still, Bettman lauded the way the bay area has responded to the team, which played to record crowds in its final two home games against the Flyers.

"It proves hockey works in the Sun Belt," Bettman said.

If it ain't broke ...

The Lightning stuck with the formula that worked in Game 7 against Philadelphia, dressing seven defensemen and one fewer forward. Dingman and Andre Roy took turns with Dmitry Afanasenkov on the third line with Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor.

"We liked the way it worked," Tortorella said. "And that's about it."

The Lightning scratched defensemen Stan Neckar and Darren Rumble, centers Martin Cibak and Eric Perrin and right wing Ben Clymer. Calgary sat defensemen Denis Gauthier, Toni Lydman and Brennan Evans, center Matthew Lombardi and left wings Lynn Loyns, Krzysztof Oliwa and Martin Sonnenberg.

Speed demons

The Lightning was not surprised by Calgary's quickness, Andreychuk said.

"You just have to watch," Andreychuk said. "There's no secrets. They have good team speed. They chase down pucks. That's their game, especially when they're up. We were aware."

Getting the crowd fired up

Lightning founder and radio analyst Phil Esposito, wearing a No. 7 Lightning sweater with his name on the back, joined Hulk Hogan atop the platform outside the Zamboni entrance for Hogan's pregame routine. After Hogan growled, "Are you ready?" and ripped his Lecavalier T-shirt, Esposito yelled, "Let's play hockey."

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