tampabay.com

Relief comes for Dingman

By TOM JONES
Published March 12, 2006


TORONTO - Chris Dingman's sentence in the minors was cut short because of good behavior.

When Dingman was waived and shipped to Springfield of the AHL in late December, the assumption was his career with the Lightning was over. General manager Jay Feaster even hinted so.

But there was Dingman on Saturday, back in uniform and playing on the fourth line with the Lightning after coming back from the hockey dead.

"I just went down with a good attitude and played the best I could," Dingman, 29, said. "Hopefully I was going to get a shot back here or with another team. Ideally, I wanted to come back here."

That attitude, plus his veteran experience, brought him back.

"He has been a solid citizen down there," coach John Tortorella said. "He never complained, he helped the kids, he did everything he (could) to do it the right way as a pro. So he's getting another whack at it."

The rap on Dingman, who played his 16th game of the season and 154th with the Lightning, has been his slow skating, but Tortorella wants him back for his defense.

"I need to feel more comfortable with the fourth line," Tortorella said. "It's a veteran presence who knows how to protect the puck. ... We're worried about his skating. We're worried about his speed. He knows that. But we feel he can give us some things that the kids simply cannot give us."

NO TALKING: Though the NHL trade deadline has passed, Feaster said he will not discuss new contracts for potential free agents such as Brad Richards, Pavel Kubina, Ruslan Fedotenko, Ryan Craig, Cory Sarich and John Grahame.

"It's something we'll do in the summer," Feaster said. "I just think it creates too much of a distraction."

MISCELLANY: Forwards Nick Tarnasky (elbow) and Rob DiMaio (back) were the injured scratches.