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Clymer's career could move forward

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001


PHILADELPHIA -- With a post-season berth a long-dismissed notion and its focus now firmly on development, the Lightning continued to assess players this weekend with the recall of 22-year-old Ben Clymer from Detroit.

Clymer's audition will be more unusual than most, as the defenseman will play forward -- quite possibly center -- for the first time since juniors.

"He's very skilled," coach John Tortorella said. "I'm just beginning to understand him. I don't have a lot of information on him. He deserved the opportunity from how he played in the minors."

Clymer had 5 goals, 8 assists and 88 penalty minutes in 53 games for the Vipers. He played his last two games there at forward (one at center).

He played in four games for the Lightning earlier this season but was scratched Saturday when Fredrik Modin (groin) was able to play.

Tortorella said general manager Rick Dudley and Vipers coach Brad Shaw are convinced Clymer can make the position change because of his overall skills and speed. Clymer seemed to grasp his new responsibilities.

"The bottom line is to go out there and try to do your job and help the team win," he said. "On defense, you can kind of relax and watch things unfold, regrouping the puck, wait for forwards to present us with a passing lane. Where as at forward, you're always in a hurry to get places."

Clymer's move is not necessarily permanent, however.

"(The organization) just wants to see what he can do there," Tortorella said. "It's good to have a guy who can play defense and also play a forward position in a National Hockey League lineup. It gives you a little bit of a utility-type position."

RAMSEY RETURNS: Associate coach Craig Ramsey made his first trip back to First Union Center since being fired as Flyers coach Dec. 10. Tortorella hired him when he took over the Lightning in January.

"There are a lot of people here that I have good memories for," he said. "It's all good memories here, not bad."

NO REST FOR WEEKES: Kevin Weekes will have little time to savor his overtime shutout of Philadelphia. He will be back in goal today at Buffalo.

"That's what this stretch is about," Tortorella said. "See what Weekes can do. We have to see if this kid can be durable."

INJURY UPDATE: Modin came though the game without further injuring his groin. Andrei Zyuzin had a swollen eye after a second-period scrum behind the Lightning goal. Matthew Barnaby had a cut across his nose and corner of his eye after being high-sticked in the first period.

LINEUP MOVES: Defensemen Grant Ledyard and Sergey Gusev were scratches.

NET TALK FOR FANS: Tuesday, Barnaby will chat live on http://www.tampabaylightning.com. ... The Lightning has linked pages off the main site promoting Brad Richards for rookie of the year and the all-rookie team.

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