The Tampa Bay Lightning just finished up their morning skate at Verizon Ceneter. This was obviously a unqiue morning workout for a few of the guys. Olie Kolzig met with the media after coming off the ice (Note: Erik from the Tampa Tribune told me he hasn’t been taking morning skates on days that he is scheduled to play, so this was a break from his normal routine) and talked about being back in DC.
An interesting nugget from the conversation — Kolzig said he had hip surgery in May and was on crutches for about six weeks this summer. He said the injury happened toward the end of the season during practice. He was OK to play through it, but knew he would need the surgery after the season.
Lightning coach Barry Melrose said he went to Kolzig and told him if he didn’t want to play this game, he would tell the media it was the coach’s decision not to play him, Kolzig told him he’s wanted to play this game since he left Washington, so it was a no-brainer for him. Kolzig said he didn’t know about the tribute set for the first timeout tonight. Kolzig said it will probably be one of his hardest games to play and he might be more nervous than he’s been since his first NHL game. He also issued a warning to Alex Ovechkin, and Matt Pettinger joked he might get “a tomahawk if he’s not careful.”
Steve Eminger is here and is still getting settled in with his new team. Since the Lightning and Flyers were playing each other the next day, someone had to move Eminger’s equipment from the home locker room at Wachovia Center to the visitor’s room. He said he was glad it happened on Friday because he had Saturday and yesterday to round up clothes and other important items to take back to Tampa Bay with him.
He will skate with Lucak Krajicek tonight, and he was practicing with the top power play unit during the morning skate. He pointed out that Kolzig, Matt Pettinger and Jeff Halpern were all on the Caps when he first got to DC, so they are helping him with another transition.
Halpern skated with his teammates, and told us afterwards that he is probably a month to six weeks away from playing. He tore up his knee playing for Team USA at the World Championships this summer.
Pettinger said it has been a crazy few months since he was traded from Washington. He will likely be a healthy scratch tonight, so his return to the Phone Booth is still on hold. It has been a bumpy road for Pettinger, getting sent to the AHL and then waived by Vancouver before signing with Tampa Bay.
As for all the ex-Caps on the roster, Kolzig said he has joked that the Lightning’s third jersey should have a Caps patch on one arm and Penguins patch on the other (for Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts and Adam Hall).
I’ll put up some quotes from all of these guys later, but I’ve got computer issues to go deal with right now. If this morning was any indication, tonight is going to be a wild night.