Skate gashes Boyle's arm

Lightning defenseman out 3 to 6 weeks after blade slices his tendon in locker room.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 23, 2007

TAMPA - Dan Boyle ran out of the locker room so quickly Saturday night, the splash of red on his left forearm was barely visible.

But there was no missing the look of concern on his face.

It was well-founded as the Lightning defenseman sustained a freak injury that will require surgery and keep one of Tampa Bay's most important players on the sideline, general manager Jay Feaster said, for three to six weeks.

"It's huge," Feaster said describing the blow to the team. "Danny is the catalyst. He's the guy who makes it go back there. You don't find those guys on a shelf."

Boyle, coming off a breakout season in which he had a career-high 20 goals, and received Norris Trophy consideration, was unavailable for comment. But Feaster said Boyle was talking to teammate Doug Janik after a 2-1 loss to the Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum when one of Boyle's skates fell off the hook on which it hung above his locker.

The skate, which apparently was not secured properly, fell about 2 feet and the blade sliced into Boyle's arm and through the abductor tendon.

Boyle ran to the training room, his arm bleeding. Four stitches closed the wound, though they will be removed today when he undergoes surgery. It was unclear at what hospital that would take place.

The injury was the latest during a training camp that has left the team, one of the least injured the past three seasons, with a collective body ache.

Star center Vinny Lecavalier left Saturday's game in the second period with what was called an "upper body injury," though he said it was just precautionary and would not cause him to miss time.

Center Ryan Craig was scratched because of back spasms. Wing Michel Ouellet missed his second game with a strained left hamstring. Forward Andre Roy (bruised tailbone) played Saturday. But center Chris Gratton said his vision is still blurry after an accidental stick blade in his right eye during Wednesday's game scratched his cornea.

Oh, and wing Jan Hlavac missed Wednesday's game with a bruised right foot.

Said Feaster, "It's been crazy."

Boyle's injury took attention away from what was some good news for the group trying to buy the team.

Absolute Hockey Enterprises, which has a purchase agreement to pay $200-million to Palace Sports & Entertainment for the Lightning, the St. Pete Times Forum lease and 5 1/2 acres of adjacent land, announced Saturday that Tampa attorney Steve Burton had signed on as a prospective owner.

That prompted Feaster to offer some gallows humor to investor Oren Koules, the Hollywood producer involved with the grisly four-chapter Saw series.

"I was saying to Oren that we are on Saw whatever version it is right now, 96 or 24," Feaster said.

It is difficult to overstate what Boyle, 31, means to the Lightning.

The Ottawa native runs the power play, sparks the transition out of the defensive zone and might as well be a forward for as much time as he spends past the blue line.

He led the team last season with an average 27:03 ice time, was third with four winning goals and fourth with 10 goals on the power play.

His 20 goals were second among defensemen. His 63 points were fourth.

That's a big hole to fill. Feaster said he must speak to ownership and the prospective ownership group before deciding to address the need with either a waiver pickup or a free-agent signing.

"He's very important to us," Lightning coach John Tortorella said recently of Boyle. "I've said all along, we always talk about some of the important people on our team, and sometimes Danny isn't mentioned. He's probably the most important guy as far as the start of our game, as far as the way we play."

For a while, the Lightning is going to have to get along without him.

CUTS: The Lightning is down to 27 players after these cuts: forwards Karl Stewart, Norm Milley and Blair Jones, and defensemen Jay Leache, Dan Jancevski and Dave Schneider. All were reassigned to AHL Norfolk.

ODDS AND ENDS: It seems Janik has the inside track for the No. 6 defensive spot, but a final decision likely won't come until after Thursday's game in Detroit. ... The team is off today.