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Team goes for final tuneup today

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 3, 2000


TAMPA -- With the Lightning's season opener on Friday, the team gets its last tuneup, an intrasquad scrimmage, at 6 tonight at the Ice Palace.

"We just want to get (acclimated) again. We had a long layoff," coach Steve Ludzik said of his team that has not played since Tuesday against Florida. "I think it's a great idea. It kills the monotony of the holdover."

There is no admission charge, and the scrimmage is open to the public. A 30-minute autograph session will follow the game.

"It will keep us on the ball," forward Dwayne Hay said. "At the same time it will be a little entertainment for the fans. We've had a good three weeks here of on-ice and off-ice workouts."

ROSTER DEADLINE: The team must submit its opening-day roster to the NHL by 3 p.m. today, and because of injuries to five defenseman and two forwards, Tampa Bay will list 20 players -- three fewer than the league maximum -- on the active roster.

Twenty-nine players are with the team.

The active number is expected to change before the opener as players come off injured reserve, meaning impending roster moves to make room.

Among those on injured reserve Monday were defensemen Petr Svboda (wrist), Andrei Zyuzin (ankle), Paul Mara (broken finger), Brian Muir (concussion), Sergey Gusev (knee) and forwards Steve Martins (ankle), Jaroslav Svejkovsky (knee).

"Obviously we'll evaluate where we are, medically, on Friday night," assistant general manager Jay Feaster said.

KUDROC SIGNING: Rather than risk losing him to his junior team, the team signed defenseman Kristian Kudroc to a three-year rookie contract worth about $3-million.

Kudroc (6-6, 240 pounds) was assigned to Detroit of the International Hockey League. "I think Kristian is going to be an NHL player for many years to come," said his agent, Allan Walsh. "The fact that he was assigned to Detroit, for a 19-yar-old, is a tremendous asset for him."

Walsh said he was told by the organization that it is "a real possibility that he will play some games (in the NHL) this year."

Picked 28th overall in the 1999 draft, Kudroc was traded in June from the Islanders in the deal that brought goaltender Kevin Weekes. He played in one preseason game last month.

"Kristian has had an outstanding training camp ... including our preseason games," Feaster said in a statement. "It quickly became apparent to us that Kristian will be an NHL defenseman for a long time, and we collectively made the decision as an organization that his development would best be served by beginning his professional career now rather than delaying another year."

VISUALIZING SUCCESS: On a rare day off, players spent most of Monday playing golf at River Hills Country Club, eating lunch together, watching Remember the Titans and listening to Joe Sheridan.

Sheridan of Greensboro, N.C., travels the country as a self-taught motivational speaker and has worked with the team in the past.

"In my opinion, the franchise and the players that are in it are on the verge of not only stabilizing the franchise but bringing it to the fruition that (general manager Rick) Dudley has envisioned," Sheridan said. "The experience, the conditioning, the attitude and the sense of trust that's here is developing to the point where potential is turning into real achievement."

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