By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000
BRANDON -- Kevin Weekes said Saturday he still is having trouble bending to do simple things like tying his shoes. As a result, the Lightning goaltender likely will miss his start Tuesday against the Panthers.
Coach Steve Ludzik said Dan Cloutier will get the call.
Weekes, acquired from the Islanders the day before the draft for the No. 5 overall pick, strained his back Tuesday night against the Capitals on the first shot of his first preseason game.
Medical trainer Dave Boyer said most of Weekes' muscle spasms have subsided, but small muscles around the joints in the lumbar region still are irritated.
"Because of the restrictions on the joints, he's still getting some symptoms," Boyer said. "Those will go away with time."
How much time is difficult to predict.
Boyer said Weekes is "day-to-day," and probably will skate during today's practice at the Ice Sports Forum.
The Lightning wraps up its preseason schedule on Tuesday, meaning Weekes will not play in real game conditions before the regular-season opener Oct. 6 against the Islanders at the Ice Palace.
Ludzik said the team will scrimmage in the interim.
Weekes and Boyer said there is no sense pushing the injury to play in a preseason game.
"I'm not going to play for the sake of not being disappointed," Weekes said. "I'm going to play for the sake of being in the proper health to contribute to what we're trying to do on the ice."
"Right now, he's day-to-day," Boyer said. "If he hurts it again, we're looking at two weeks."
ZYUZIN FRUSTRATED: After working out all summer to come back from a seriously injured shoulder, defenseman Andrei Zyuzin still has not taken part in a full-bore practice because of a badly sprained right ankle sustained while jogging.
"Of course, it's been very hard," he said. "It's hard to deal with. It's hard to stay focused. But I've worked hard and it's feeling better."
Boyer said the 22-year-old could be out another week. Zyuzin, who works out twice a day and rides a stationary bike while the Lightning practices, said the waiting has gotten more difficult now that the team is playing games.
"For any athlete to sit and watch is really hard, but I know (Boyer) has to be careful," he said.
MORE INJURIES: Center Steve Martins (sprained right ankle) skated hard before Saturday's practice and said he hopes to play Tuesday. Defenseman Sergey Gusev (right knee) also is on the bubble for that game.
Forward Yaroslav Svejkovski (right knee) skated the past two days and said his recovery from arthroscopic surgery is ahead of schedule. He likely will start the season on injured reserve.
FIGHT NIGHT: How did Cloutier end up on the other end of the rink brawling with Florida goaltender Sean Gauthier during Thursday's melee with the Panthers?
Cloutier said he went to the Lightning bench, closest to the net Gauthier was defending, to get a drink and wait for the gloves and sticks to be picked up.
"The other goalie was already at the top of the faceoff circle," Cloutier said. "We made eye contact and he gave me the "yes' sign (a nod of the head) and it happened."
What does this mean for Tuesday's game? "Nothing," Cloutier said. "It's over."
ODDS AND ENDS: Center Vinny Lecavalier (hyperextended left elbow) looked strong during practice and is scheduled to play Tuesday. ... Cloutier wore his new molded mask for the first time during camp. The goalie has said he will wear it from time to time to get acclimated to the different feel from the helmet and cage he usually wears. ... Who was Cloutier's idol while growing up outside Montreal? Patrick Roy.
WHERE: Ice Sports Forum, 10222 Elizabeth Place, Brandon.
PRACTICE SCHEDULE: 10 a.m.-noon (schedule subject to change).
PRESEASON SCHEDULE: Tuesday -- vs. Florida Panthers at TECO Arena, Estero, 7:30 p.m.
INFORMATION: Call the Ice Palace at (813) 301-6500.