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Lightning budget spared cut
GM Feaster gets word from owner that instead of slashing payroll, there might even be an increase.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO,Times staff writer
Published May 25, 2007
Jay Feaster has a dream.
The Lightning general manager got word this week from owner Bill Davidson that payroll will not be cut, as was feared, and might even end up higher than last season's $44-million.
In a perfect world, Feaster said, that would end speculation one of his high-priced stars - Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards or Dan Boyle - will have to be traded.
"It should, " Feaster said Thursday. "I hope it does. It's one of the things Feaster and Davidson talked about. He likes those players. He recognizes we're very close. He's bullish on this team."
A team, captain Tim Taylor said, that cannot waste a core of players who, with Boyle's contract up after next season, may be together just one more year.
"A cut, " Taylor said, "would have sent the wrong message."
A $44-million payroll still might be up to $5-million below next season's yet to be determined salary cap. But Feaster said he believes Davidson will allow payroll to go higher if the team plays well and needs to add pieces toward the trade deadline.
"If we continue to show sales are strong and revenue is coming in to what we're projecting, he'll allow us to do what we have to do to improve the club, " Feaster said. "I feel wonderful about the support Mr. Davidson continues to show. He wants to win."
Had the Lightning been stuck with a $40-million payroll, the preliminary figure after the team's parent company, Palace Sports & Entertainment, reported a loss last season of $9-million on its Tampa operation, Feaster's task would have been daunting.
The team has $35.46-million tied up in 12 players, including $24.5-million in the Big Four. That would have left $4.5-million to sign 8-10 players, including a goaltender and a second-line wing.
Now, Feaster has some breathing room, and dreaming room.