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Need to get tough? Get Barnaby

Lightning sends Wayne Primeau to Penguins for feisty 27-year-old wing.

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 2, 2001


TAMPA -- The less he played this season, the more Matthew Barnaby wanted out of Pittsburgh.

"I think I've asked for a trade about 17 times," the right wing said.

Barnaby got his wish Thursday.

In its first major transaction since the start of the season, Tampa Bay traded center Wayne Primeau to Pittsburgh for the feisty 27-year-old, who was averaging 7 minutes, 4 seconds of ice time this season.

"I like the youth," said Barnaby, who joins the club Monday. "With young guys, it's going to take some time, but we don't have any time. It's going to be an exciting time to turn this thing around and get going in the right direction. ... Losing is not an option."

The Lightning also added a veteran defenseman, signing free agent Grant Ledyard.

In Primeau, the Penguins add size and a left-handed stick. He had 15 points in 46 games with Tampa Bay. The Lightning gets an experienced, tough and durable player who isn't afraid to speak his mind.

"I think I'm going to be with a coach in John Tortorella that will know how to utilize me to the best of my abilities and not a guy who's going to sit me on the bench like (Pittsburgh coach) Ivan Hlinka did," Barnaby said. "It's tough ... putting up points when you're playing 34 seconds a night."

Barnaby had one goal -- against the Lightning on Oct. 13 -- four assists and 168 penalty minutes while playing on the Penguins' fourth line. Only Florida forward Peter Worrell (184 penalty minutes) has spent more time in the box.

"For what Matthew brings to the team, we needed," Lightning general manager Rick Dudley said. "He's a gritty, miserable guy to play against. He and I would have been similar players."

Pittsburgh general manager Craig Patrick said: "I kept hoping things would work out (with Barnaby), but things didn't change much over time. ... For Matt and ourselves, it was better to move in a different direction."

Barnaby came into this season with 61 goals, 93 assists and 1,479 penalty minutes in 399 career games. He led the league with 335 penalty minutes during the 1995-1996 season.

"He's a guy that knows how to get under the opponent's skin," said Lightning center Brian Holzinger, who played with Barnaby for parts of six seasons in Buffalo. "He will go out there and fight and stick up for his teammates."

But Barnaby, suspended four games after an altercation with a Panthers fan Dec. 20, doesn't want to be known solely as a fighter.

He wants to be a lockerroom leader and believes a 20-goal season is possible.

"But I'm not going to shy away from being aggressive," said Barnaby, who scored a career-high 19 goals in 1996-97. "Because that's what got me here, and that's what is going to keep me here."

Barnaby's $1.1-million contract expires after this season. Primeau's contract is worth $575,000. Both will be restricted free agents.

Primeau, acquired from Buffalo in March, had been in a terrible scoring slump, with one goal and five assists in his past 34 games. He ranked ninth on the Lightning with 19 points.

"It hasn't been my greatest year," Primeau said as he left the Ice Palace. "I've been struggling a little bit. I've just got to find that niche, I think, and hopefully that's with a team like Pittsburgh. They've got such talented players. Hopefully I can help the team and help them in the playoffs.

"I wish (the Lightning) all the best, and I hope that they can work things out here, and they're getting a good player in Matthew."

Ledyard, 39, played 40 games with Ottawa last season. He signed with the Lightning for the remainder of the season. A 16-year NHL veteran, Ledyard fits into the leadership role Petr Svoboda filled before a serious concussion Dec. 14 that has put his season in jeopardy.

"I enjoyed being a leader in Ottawa last year," Ledyard said. "But I'm not going to push anything on anybody."

-- Staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

Matthew Barnaby

POSITION: Right wing.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-0/190.

BIRTHDATE/PLACE: May 4, 1973, Ottawa.

NHL HIGHLIGHTS: Drafted 83rd overall in 1992 by Buffalo. Debuted with Sabres in 1992-93 season, scoring one goal in two games. Led league in penalty minutes with 335 in 1995-96 for Buffalo. Scored 15 goals with 16 assists in first full season with Buffalo (1995-96) and 19 goals with 24 assists the next, but tapered off to five and 20 in 1997-98 and six and 16 the next season. Four of his goals were for Buffalo; two came after he was traded to Pittsburgh. Had 12 goals, 12 assists last season.

Grant Ledyard

POSITION: Defenseman.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-2/195.

BIRTHDATE/PLACE: Nov. 19, 1961, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

NHL HIGHLIGHTS: A 16-year veteran, he debuted with the Rangers in 1984-85. Best scoring season was 1993-94 with Dallas, nine goals and 37 assists. Most productive season for goals was 1986-87, 14 for the Kings. Played the 1999-2000 season with Ottawa, scoring two goals with four assists in 40 games before becoming a free agent. Has 87 career goals, 270 assists and 738 penalty minutes in 953 games.

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