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Tortorella expects rookies to play
By TOM JONES
Published October 20, 2005
ATLANTA - The Lightning hoped prospects Evgeny Artyukhin and Nick Tarnasky eventually would play in the NHL. It just was not expected to happen two weeks into this season.
But in what amounts to a warning shot fired over the heads of the Lightning, general manager Jay Feaster called two rookies up late Tuesday from minor-league Springfield, and coach John Tortorella has one intention for them.
"To play," said Tortorella, who is benching fourth-liners Chris Dingman and Martin Cibak.
Artyukhin, 22, and Tarnasky, 23, will play on a line with veteran Rob DiMaio.
Artyukhin, a third-round pick in the 2001 draft, is a 6-foot-4, 254-pound right wing who led the Lightning in the preseason with four goals.
"I thought it was Artyukhin's best camp of the three (he has attended)," Tortorella said. "He had some speed, he has some size. And I think he adds a little bit of hunger."
Tortorella said virtually the same thing about Tarnasky, a 6-foot-2, 233-pound center who was a ninth-round pick in 2003.
"He brings some jam," Tortorella said, "and he brings hunger. ... (Both) have played well."
BACK TO WORK: After a day (and night) off in Atlantic City, the bleary-eyed Lightning returned to practice Tuesday and Wednesday and, as expected, Tortorella skated them hard.
The practices came after the players had some 36 hours to roam free through Atlantic City on a team-bonding trip. Some played golf. Some played tennis. And, yes, some explored the nightlife and, in particular, the casinos. It's unlikely sleep was a major part of the Lightning's off time.
"And they fought through the practice," Tortorella said earlier this week. "There was no (complaining). They struggled through it, but they got through it. That's part of it. I think that's part of the camaraderie you go through on these trips."
The point Tortorella was making was he wanted his team to enjoy themselves during the off time, then bond together some more in practices full of wind sprints.
"You come in the next morning knowing you're going to get skated and they more or less defy you by looking at you and (thinking), "You're not going to break us here. You might bend us, but you're not going to break us.' " Tortorella said. "That's all part of this. It's very important."