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Bolts young only at heart

By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published November 2, 2005

TAMPA - The Lightning is older than you think.

With a young nucleus that includes 25-year-olds Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards, 26-year-old Ruslan Fedotenko, 27-year-old Cory Sarich and 28-year-old Pavel Kubina, there's this impression that the Lightning is a young team.

In the grand scheme of the NHL, it isn't.

In the latest NHL study of team rosters, only three teams have an average age over 30 and the Lightning is one of them.

The Devils are the league's oldest team with an average age of 30 years and six months. The Lightning is second at 30 years, four months. The Red Wings' average age is 30 years and two months.

Then again, the numbers are a tad deceiving. The Lightning's age is skewed because of its oldest players: Dave Andreychuk (42), Rob DiMaio (37), Tim Taylor (36) and goalie Sean Burke (38).

Overall, of the Lightning's 22 players (not counting goalie Brian Eklund, who is filling a spot on the bench until Burke returns from injury), 16 are 30 or younger.

The Lightning did stack up well in another category. Literally.

The Lightning's average size is 6-feet-2 inches, 210 pounds. Again, bucking the impression that it is a small, speedy team, the Lightning actually is the third-biggest team in the league. Only the Capitals (6-2, 211) and the Senators (6-2, 211) are considered bigger.

The size of the average player is 6-1, 205 pounds, the biggest in history.

Also of note, Canada continues to produce the most NHL players. Of the league's 710 players, 371 (52.3 percent) are from the Great White North.

As far as American-born players, the state leader is New York with23 of the 121. Massachusetts and Minnesota are second with 18 players each.

BURKE ALMOST BACK: Goalie Sean Burke, nursing a strained groin, did not skate or dress Tuesday and likely won't skate today, but hopes to be available for the upcoming three-game road trip that begins Thursday at Ottawa.

"I'm actually quite pleased," Burke said. "It feels better than I thought it would."

Burke, who has only been riding a stationary bike since suffering the strain when he stepped on a puck Saturday, said the groin was sore from being examined Monday.

"I don't think they want me skating (today)," Burke said. "But if all goes well like I expect, then I should be able to get back on the ice when the trip starts."

RICHARDS MOVES UP: With two goals in the first period, Richards became the Lightning's fifth all-time goal scorer with 89. He passed Chris Gratton, who had 88 goals in 404 games over two stints with the Lightning.

Tuesday was Richards' 339th game with the Lightning.

MISCELLANY: Before the game, the Lightning had a moment of silence for Tampa native Al Lopez, 97, the Hall of Fame baseball player who died Sunday. ... Forwards Chris Dingman and Martin Cibak were healthy scratches again.

[Last modified November 2, 2005, 00:47:16]

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