Hurt me so I don't have to suffer

Lightning players - jokingly? - look for ways to escape the pain as "Camp Torturella" begins.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 13, 2007

BRANDON - Desperate times call for desperate measures when it comes to the first two days of Lightning training camp.

Asked how to cope with the grueling fitness tests that at best will leave players gasping for air and at worst barfing up their breakfasts, defenseman Dan Boyle said, "Fake an injury."

Really, he said with a straight face, "Fake an injury."

"Yeah, pay someone to hurt you," chimed in defenseman Brad Lukowich, sitting at the next locker.

Seriously, though, Boyle said, "You have to eat right, rest and I think you need to ..."

"Not let it get into your freakin' head," Lukowich added.

Easier said than done as Tampa Bay opens its 15th camp today at the Ice Sports Forum.

Highlights of Day 1 include six three-lap skates in full gear and a 3-mile run. Day 2 features three 15-lap skates, though goaltenders get a break with 12 laps.

"It stinks," right wing Marty St. Louis said.

"Definitely," Boyle said, "it's the hardest thing I've ever done."

Bottom line, the tests check to see if players followed the offseason training program that has helped the team become one of the league's best-conditioned.

If coach John Tortorella gleans any other information from the results, or identifies early leaders in position battles or competitions for roster spots, he isn't saying.

"The players don't even know what I look at," Tortorella said. "That's the trick of it."

Players said the trick is of the mind.

"It's all mental," St. Louis said. "Your body is going to try to tell you to shut down. You have to fight through it."

Boyle said that is exactly what happens during the season.

"There are a lot of times late in the third period or late in a shift when you think you're done," he said. "This challenges your body to fight harder."

Boyle said his preparation was a Wednesday golf game. Then he put his feet up, ate a light dinner of chicken, salad and fruit and hit the sack early.

The training staff also tries to help. Head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said he suggested players drink heartily starting Wednesday, including drinks that replace electrolytes.

Potassium and sodium pills will be distributed to help stop cramping. Protein shakes after Day 1 will help recovery and readiness for Day 2.

"And it doesn't get any easier the second day," Boyle said. "It's literally 48 hours. And I shouldn't even say 48 hours. We also do laps after practices. So just when you think you're done, you've got to do it for another two or three weeks."

"You've just got to push through it," Lukowich said, "push through the pain."

Defenseman Shane O'Brien, acquired last season from the Ducks, said he ran more during offseason workouts because of the 3-miler. Other than that, it was business as usual.

Yeah, he's heard all the horror stories about Camp Torturella.

"But I don't listen to them," he said. "You don't want to psyche yourself out. I don't think anybody has died from doing it, so I should be all right."

Roster change: Defenseman Vladimir Mihalik will not be at training camp because of a sore groin, general manager Jay Feaster said. David Schneider, 28, a 5-foot-9 defenseman signed during the summer as a free agent, will take his place. Mihalik will report to AHL Norfolk.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Training camp roster

(Numbers are for preseason games, not necessarily scrimmages.)

Forwards (18)

No. Player

34 Ryan Craig

21 Mathieu Darche

77 Chris Gratton

17 Jan Hlavac

49 Blair Jones

24 Andreas Karlsson

4 Vinny Lecavalier

29 Craig MacDonald

14 Norm Milley

7 Michel Ouellet

20 Vinny Prospal

19 Brad Richards

36 Andre Roy

26 Marty St. Louis

61 Karl Stewart

74 Nick Tarnasky

46 Kyle Wanvig

16 Jason Ward

Defensemen (12)

No. Player

22 Dan Boyle

2 Dan Jancevski

3 Doug Janik

71 Filip Kuba

33 Bryce Lampman

38 Jay Leach

37 Brad Lukowich

39 Mike Lundin

55 Shane O'Brien

54 Paul Ranger

45 David Schneider

32 Matt Smaby

Goaltenders (3)

No. Player

30 Marc Denis

40 Johan Holmqvist

31 Karri Ramo


Lightning training camp

When: Physicals and on-ice testing are today and Friday. Scrimmages begin Saturday.

Where: Ice Sports Forum, 10222 Elizabeth Place, Brandon

Directions: From the west - Selmon Expressway east to Faulkenburg Road. Go north (left) on Faulkenburg past Adamo Drive. Second street on the right is Elizabeth. From the north - Interstate 75 south to Adamo Drive. West on Adamo, north (right) on Faulkenburg.

Admission: Free and open to the public.

Parking: On the premises and Elizabeth Place. Get there at least 30 minutes before Saturday and Sunday scrimmages for a spot near the building.

Autographs: Available as players come off the ice. Stake out a spot near the entrance to the locker room, and bring a pen.

Where to watch: It can be cramped and crowded but the upstairs corner overlook of the left-side rink offers a great view.


(subject to change)

Today: Physicals and testing, on-ice at 10:15 a.m.

Friday: Physicals and testing, on-ice at 9:30 a.m.

Saturday-Tuesday: Scrimmages and practice, 10 a.m.

Wednesday: Pregame skate, 10:30 a.m.

Sept. 20: Practice, noon.

Sept. 21: Practice, 10 a.m.

Sept. 22: Pregame skate at St. Pete Times Forum, 10:30 a.m.

Sept. 23: Off.

Sept. 24: Pregame skate at St. Pete Times Forum, 10:30 a.m.

Sept. 25: Practice, 10 a.m.

Sept. 26: Practice, 10 a.m.

Preseason games

Sept. 19: Stars, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 22: Capitals, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 24: Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27: at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 29: at Stars, 8 p.m.