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'Cornerstones' being laid

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001


TAMPA -- General manager Rick Dudley said the Lightning is identifying a "cornerstone" group of players around which to build.

"What we are trying to identify is the people we'd like and, as we move on and up, who we definitely want with us," Dudley said. "In our situation, we're not worried about the playoffs, so we can take more of a hard-line attitude if he isn't the type of guy we want with us."

Who is part of the cornerstone group?

Dudley isn't saying, but using the current roster as a base, the group is believed to include forwards Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Fredrik Modin, Martin St. Louis and Matthew Barnaby, and defensemen Jassen Cullimore, Pavel Kubina, Cory Sarich, Adrian Aucoin and Kristian Kudroc.

That is not set in stone. Everyone, including minor-leaguers, is being evaluated. Players can fight their way on or be knocked out, but they have been put on notice.

"We talk about how we want accountability," coach John Tortorella said before Tuesday night's game against the Blues at the Ice Palace. "We have beat that to death. We've talked about it enough, and we just don't play. Patience is one thing, but when you keep waiting and waiting and waiting, somebody has to answer the bell."

If they don't, they could be gone, either over the summer or by the March 13 trade deadline.

"We don't think we have to broom it like last year," Dudley said, "but we do need certain people who can do certain things."

Dudley said no big moves are imminent, "but you never know what the conversations will be tomorrow. Are we talking to people? Sure. Have they said something that would make us jump up and down? Not yet, but we're working on it."

MINOR TRADE: Tampa Bay acquired left wing Konstantin Kalmikov from the Maple Leafs for defenseman Maxim Galanov. Kalmikov, 22, will be assigned to the IHL's Detroit Vipers. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder had seven goals, 10 assists and eight penalty minutes in 47 games for St. John's of the AHL.

Galanov, claimed off waivers in November from the Panthers, played 25 games with the Lightning and was re-assigned to the Vipers.

KOCHAN CLEARS WAIVERS: Goaltender Dieter Kochan will be re-assigned to the Vipers, leaving the No. 2 job to Wade Flaherty. Kochan will join Mark Fitzpatrick in Detroit. Goaltender Evgeny Konstantinov, 19, is expected to be moved to the Lightning's ECHL affiliate in Johnstown, Pa.

ODDS AND ENDS: Forward Alexander Kharitonov and defensemen Sergey Gusev were scratched.

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