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One line already looks complete

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001


BRANDON -- Size, speed, vision. If you can get all three on one line, you really have something.

BRANDON -- Size, speed, vision. If you can get all three on one line, you really have something.

The Lightning may really have something with center Brad Richards, left wing Fredrik Modin and right wing Martin St. Louis.

Richards had three goals and an assist Friday in the black team's 4-1 victory over the white in a 40-minute scrimmage at the Ice Sports Forum. St. Louis had a goal and an assist. Modin had two assists.

"That's a very good line for us," coach John Tortorella said. "Modin and Richards always played well off one another and Louie gives them the speed."

Tortorella cautioned that many line combinations will be tried before the season opener, but he did not deny the line could be a No. 1.

It has all the elements.

Richards is Tampa Bay's top passer and last season had a team-high 41 assists. Modin had a team-high 32 goals and is rarely knocked off the puck. St. Louis had 18 goals and is tireless.

"Mo is very smart and uses his body and Louie reads the play so well," Richards said. "I just stay in the middle and react from that."

"It feels like we're connecting," Modin said.

Richards and Modin played together regularly last season. St. Louis was added during the final month.

"I'm definitely trying to fit in with those guys," St. Louis said. "It's a line I would like to play on."

VINNY UPDATE: A face-to-face meeting between the team and holdout center Vinny Lecavalier probably will happen. But assistant general manager Jay Feaster said the meeting, which also will include Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, might not be a magic pill.

"To suggest sitting down with someone is going to change anything, that's not necessarily the case," he said. "Perhaps it's an opportunity for Vinny and Kent and (Lightning president) Ron Campbell and Jay Feaster to sit in a room and get everybody's position articulated again."

Hughes said he has not heard from the team since the meeting was proposed last week. He also denied a report that he was asking for a contract similar to the three-plus-year deal that could pay Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin as much as $23.25-million.

"We are not comparing (Lecavalier) to prominent players in the NHL who make between $7-million and $10-million, and we're not looking for Khabibulin money," Hughes said.

Hughes' starting point on negotiations was two years, $6.3-million. The Lightning's: three years, $5.35-million.

"The lack of getting something done is no reflection on what we think of the player," Feaster said. "We just have philosophical differences about what kind of contract the player should have.

"We think this is a critical camp for Vinny Lecavalier, absolutely critical. But at the same time, we're not going to sign (owner) Bill Davidson's name to a check and say, "Fill in the zeros.' "

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Associate coach Craig Ramsay to players skating the first of 20 laps: "You're almost done."

ODDS AND ENDS: Goaltender Kevin Weekes, who had 13 saves for the black team, made the play of the day, diving to his left to stone Vinny Prospal from in close. ... Nikita Alexeev scored his second goal in two games for the white. ... Today's practice is at 9 a.m.

Sunday scrimmage

The Lightning has scheduled a game-condition scrimmage at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Ice Palace in Tampa. It is open to the public for a suggested cash donation of $5 that will go to the Tampa Bay chapter of the American Red Cross for disaster relief.

Entrances on the west side of the Ice Palace will open at 12:30 p.m. Practice is at 1 p.m. The game will have three periods with a 20-minute continuous clock.

Parking is free in the VIP East lot off Ice Palace Drive and the VIP West lot across the street from the Waterside Marriott Hotel off Florida Avenue.

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