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Esposito returns behind the mike

The former Lightning general manager will also continue to do work for Fox Sports Net.

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 22, 2000


Phil Esposito scored 717 goals in his 18 years as a professional hockey player.

None, he said, mattered as much as the goal he accomplished nearly 10 years ago when the NHL took him up on his offer to bring hockey to Tampa Bay.

"It was like my baby," Esposito said Monday. "It was like my child, there's no doubt about that."

Nearly two years after he was fired as the Lightning's general manager, the NHL Hall of Famer is coming back to the team.

Tampa Bay announced Monday that Esposito will serve as a radio color commentator for 34 home games on WDAE-AM 620 this season.

"To be able to do some work with the Lightning is really great," said Esposito, who was the team's general manager from its inception in 1992 until he was fired by former owner Art Williams in October 1998.

"There's big-time nostalgia in my heart for this."

General manager Rick Dudley saw Esposito, who will have no personnel evaluation responsibilities, on an unrelated matter and helped recruit him back into the fold, writing a letter to team president Ron Campbell on Esposito's behalf. Campbell and Esposito met Aug. 16 when Campbell returned from the NHL meetings in Boca Raton and a deal was struck shortly thereafter. The parties have a year-to-year arrangement. "We are very pleased to be able to bring Phil Esposito back into the fold with the ... Lightning," Campbell said in a statement. "As one of hockey's all-time greats, he has known the game of hockey all his life and it remains his No. 1 passion.

"And we would not be playing hockey in Tampa Bay if it weren't for Phil, so it's only natural that he works as a part of our team."

Esposito worked as a studio analyst for Fox and as a part-time television color commentator for the Boston Bruins last season. He will continue some work for Fox Sports Net. "I'm really looking forward to it," said Esposito, who won two Stanley Cup championships with Boston. "I love watching Vinny Lecavalier play. I think this team has got a pretty good future. They're on the upswing with a lot of young players."

HURRICANES: Carolina signed forward Jeff Daniels to a one-year contract and defenseman Mike Rucinski to a two-year deal.

The Hurricanes also signed four minor-leaguers: goaltender Bujar Amidovski, center Reggie Berg and defensemen Harlan Pratt and Jeremiah McCarthy.

Daniels had three goals and four assists in 69 games with Carolina in 1999-00.

Rucinski had two assists in 24 games in 1997-98 and '98-99 with Carolina. He spent last season with the Cincinnati, Carolina's IHL affiliate.

Terms of the signings were not released.

PREDATORS: Nashville signed defenseman Marc Moro to a multiyear contract. The Predators called Moro, 23, from Milwaukee of the IHL in March and he picked up 40 penalty minutes in eight games.

COYOTES: Phoenix signed defenseman Radoslav Suchy to a three-year contract. Suchy, 24, had six assists in 60 games as a rookie last season.

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