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On the Eve of Something Awful Happening

You've all heard it by now. Rumors are swirling that the Lightning are accepting offers for star center Brad Richards and will soon present to him the cities that have made bids in the hopes he will waive his no-trade clause. Columbus, Dallas, and Vancouver are all supposedly the frontrunners for Richards' services as the Lightning, supposedly, are hell bent on shedding Richards' $7.8 million dollar contract.

I feel sick to my stomach, and so does every single member of the Lightning fan base I've talked to.

In the post lockout world the Lightning made a strategic move to lock up their core players to big contracts: Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle, and Brad Richards. Although they have been constantly lambasted for following that path, time has borne out that the Lightning were right to do so. As Ryan Dixon pointed out on his blog for The Hockey News, many NHL teams have followed the Lightning in investing heavily in locking up their core players. Several teams, like Detroit, have tied up even more money than the Lightning have in just a handful of players. While the hockey media has waved the bloody shirt about the Lightning's cap management, the truth is the Lightning were merely the first to embrace the realities of the new CBA. So lets get that out of the way right now: there's nothing wrong with what the Lightning did in locking up their core. Where they went wrong was in picking complimentary pieces like Marc Denis that haven't worked out. And then, of course, there's the little matter of Dan Boyle dropping a skate on his wrist.

So time and the rest of the league's moves have proven Jay Feaster was right to invest in his stars and yet, still, we have an amazing crisis in faith playing out right now in which the Lightning seem hell bent to abandon the principles they've built this franchise on for the past half a decade to try to become "cheaper and deeper". Worse still, they seem eager to do so by not only trading one of their core players, but by trading one of THE core players of this franchise. As early as the 2002-2003 season it became clear that Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards formed the axis around which the whole future of the Tampa Bay Lightning would revolve. They won a Cup, two division titles, and made four straight playoff appearances together. Now, if Richards leaves, do the Lightning really have a future?

What the Lightning ought to be doing is trading off just about every other piece of the puzzle but Brad Richards. In dealing off players like Prospal, Gratton, Kuba, Holmqvist, the team could free up around $8 million dollars in payroll. Spending that $8 million dollars (to say nothing of the money that could be saved by buying out Marc Denis, and dealing off lesser pieces like Ryan Craig and Jason Ward before next season) more wisely around Lecavalier and Richards is the way that the Lightning should proceed.

The other myth that needs to be squashed is that the Lightning are right up against the cap because of the money that the team has invested in their star players. The Lightning aren't up against the cap, they're up against (and slightly over) a Bill Davidson, PS&E imposed budget of $45 million dollars. That's well below the salary cap. When word spread that Oren Koules, a former hockey player characterized as a Mark Cuban type owner who would spare no expense to win, was about to buy the team it appeared likely the team's budget would expand to allow more money to build around the core. However, with Koules apparently deeply involved in this Richards deal that appears less and less likely.

Don't get me wrong, I understand Koules is in the process of having to pull off a $200 million dollar purchase of this franchise. I'm sure his accountants are probably telling him that spending $40-45 million dollars on payroll is the only way this works. But let me make this clear to Oren Koules: if that's the rationale behind trading Brad Richards, you sir are being penny wise and pound foolish. Setting this franchise back a half a decade by auctioning off one of its franchise cornerstones to the lowest bidder will doom this franchise to more years of missing the playoffs and missing those all important playoff gate receipts. That, in kind, will lead to a dwindling season ticket base and apathy, and deep bitterness, from a fan base that will rightfully feel burned that the core of a very good team was broken up as a business rather than a hockey decision.

Here at the eleventh hour there is still time for cooler heads to prevail. Oren Koules can still decide to live up to the mantle of franchise savior by keeping the core group together and doing the right thing.

Sometimes the best trades are the ones that aren't made.

Oren Koules, this is your first test as owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. We're all watching and hoping you show the wisdom to do the right thing. Prove to us that this team will guided by hockey decisions, not business decisions, and that you are a man deeply committed to winning. Be the kind of owner this fanbase wants and desperately needs you to be.

Dissapointed Excitement

As we wait to see what the roster outcomes are to be, I must digress. It is not good (but necessary) to lose anybody, except maybe Prospal, Gratton, Boyle or Richards, maybe even Vinny. But what if we had changed coaches back in November, and were still in the hunt? Maybe brought the team together, appointed a captain, and rolled four lines conistently?

Luca Cunti

Anybody actually get to see this kid play? I would have thought he should be tearing up the USHL, but he isn't even a point per game. Is he not playing many minutes? Just not as good as the Lightning thought or is he struggling with the NA game?

Jonathan Boutin is Your Daddy

Skip ahead to about 30 seconds into the video where Boutin ragdolls Greiss during last night's Admirals game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tih8DsGrgUQ

Tis the season...for trades....

So it's that time of year again, when all the teams around the league are either looking to make a big splash with a pickup or start over by moving players. Yes, it is trade season once again. For the last several years, the bolts have been buyers in the market, for the most part. This season though time has seemingly caught up with them and they re-enter the sellers market. I'm not opposed to this though at all. I think it's time to get some new blood into the system and team, shake things up a bit.

BP Message Board ONLINE

You asked for it ... Your donations underwrote the cost ... Now, without further ado, the staff of BoltProspects.com presents for your community enjoyment ...

The BP Message Board

There's also a link on the top menu bar as well. I think you will find the BP boards to be full featured (including a user configurable ignore list) and a great place to go and talk with your friends about hockey or whatever interests you.

Lightning Junior Scouting In Perspective

I've been reading a lot of talk on the internet in the past three or four weeks by Lightning fans wanting to assign blame for the struggles the Lightning have had this season. One of the common threads in many of these cases has been to point the finger at the Lightning's junior scouting department. That discontent in the fan base only got amplified last week when St. Pete Times writer John Romano wrote, "The bottom line is the Lightning has gotten virtually nothing from nearly a decade of drafts." Even Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has gotten in on the act calling the Lightning's minor league system a mess, only fueling a vocal segment of the Lightning fan base that is thirsting to see heads roll.

Everybody seems to be squealing for accountability, but no one has done the accounting. Much, much more on the flip...

New Themes

Just installed a couple of more new themes: Zen, Zen Classic, and MyDrual_Impact.

Each user can customize which theme they *see* when browsing the BP site by clicking My Account in the navigation panel in the left-side pane, and then selecting the Edit tab. Scroll down and you'll see a number of theme options. With these three new themes, there is currently 14 to choose from. Enjoy.

New way to YouTube

With the recent site upgrade, there's a new way to include YouTube or GoogleVideo inline in your posts. Simply paste in the URL to the video such as
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1083482561197698956&sourceid=docidfeed&hl=en

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wWBmShJDMMM
and your video link will be automatically embedded.

BP Media Gallery Is Back

The BoltProspects gallery is back up and running. Enjoy.

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