tampabay.com

Richards shrugging off pain

By TOM JONES
Published September 13, 2005


BRANDON - Center Brad Richards continues to feel pain associated with his January surgery for a tear in his abdominal wall.

It's not enough to keep him from playing, and tests show the pain likely is coming from scar tissue, not from the surgically repaired area. He doesn't appear to be at risk for reaggravating the abdominal wall. But he doesn't feel 100 percent.

"I've been told it's probably going to take a year to get back to feeling 100 percent," Richards said. "I'm not worried. It only bothers me some days and it's not enough, I don't think, to affect my play. I expect to be able to do what I've always done on the ice.

"But I can still feel it."

Richards suffered early stages of the injury in the 2003-04 season but continued to play and won the Conn Smythe Trophy given to the playoff MVP. But after spending less than a month in Russia during the lockout, Richards was at the point where he could barely walk without pain. He flew home and had the surgery.

"I expect to do everything I need to do during camp to get ready for the season," Richards said. "And it's good to be back with (the Lightning trainers) so they can monitor everything and give me the treatment I need to play without any problems."

REUNITED: Coach John Tortorella was all business on the first day of camp, but he did take a few moments to reminisce with his players, who gathered as a team for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in June of 2004.

"It has been 15 months and it feels like 15 years," Tortorella said. "It's great to get your athletes back together again."

The Lightning will try to put the Stanley Cup out of its memory so it can concentrate on the upcoming season, but it knows there will continue to be hoopla, especially when the championship banner is raised at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on Oct.5.

"Once that banner is up there," forward Martin St. Louis said, "it's time to move on."

NEW LOOK: The last time we saw captain Dave Andreychuk , he was lifting the Stanley Cup over his head, a head with very close-cropped hair.

When Andreychuk reported to camp Monday, he looked like a throwback to the 1980s with his graying hair resting on his shoulders. How long will he keep it?

"Until Torts tells me to cut it," Andreychuk said.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE: Physicals and testing continue today in Brandon. The team finally takes the ice for real practices and scrimmages Wednesday.