I was fortunate enough to be invited down to The Scope before Saturday morningâ€™s optional skate to talk to Norfolk Head Coach Steve Stirling and Norfolk General Manager Claude Loiselle. At about 9 am I made my way down to the building in the heart of a quiet downtown Norfolk. The hockey operations staff were in a good mood after beating the Binghamton Senators 5-1 in the Admiralsâ€™ home opener, and there was a feeling in the building that things were starting to get on the right track.
In the new era of the NHL where the salary cap reigns, it is imperative clubs find and develop their own talent through their farm system. Since the lockout in 2004-2005, the Lightning has been forced to compete to stay at the top of the food chain by carefully shopping for affordable free agents and coordinating financially-sensitive trades. While other clubs have had the option of plugging multiple holes with cost-feasible prospects, the Lightning has been forced to look outside the organizational depth chart for help.
Mike Lundin arrived at Lightning training camp last week and did his best not to be star-struck at the amount of star power assembled in Tampa Bay's locker room.
Following a four-year career at the University of Maine where he posted 12 goals and 58 points in 159 games, the 2004 fourth-round draft pick enters his first year as a professional trying to find his place within the organizational roster.
Judging from his first few days of camp, his stock might be higher than previously thought.
To read the rest of the feature, see the Tampa Tribune.
Since Jay Feaster took over as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2002, two things have stood out as being top priorities with the organizationâ€”winning and work ethic.
Success is earned.
In this meritocracy system, Feaster will do whatever it takes to win, and if a player doesnâ€™t perform up to expectations, he is in danger of losing his spot on the depth chart, if not the roster.
Starting off their pro careers on the right foot is essential for young prospects in the organization, such as the 20 that finished eighth out of eight teams in last weekâ€™s Traverse City (TC) prospects tournament in Michigan. Individual performances aside, winning is priority number one with the club and the last-place finish is not sitting well with the general manager.
â€œI am not pleased with the results,â€ Feaster made sure to tell Bolt Prospects before providing player evaluations.
Luca Cunti is just happy to be here.
Wearing a St. Cloud State hockey T-shirt, on Tuesday he began his assimilation with the rest of the Huskiesâ€™ freshmen.
A forward from Switzerland, Cunti attended his first class earlier in the day, then was one of the first to arrive for an afternoon workout at the National Hockey Center.
While eight other incoming recruits started school last week, Cunti is a late addition. He committed in July and it wasnâ€™t until little more than a week ago that he made the decision and processed the necessary paperwork in an effort to begin college this year instead of in 2008.
Heâ€™s still waiting for clearance by the NCAA, but expects to be able to play when the team opens the season next month.
To read the rest of this story, see the St. Cloud Times.