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Jacques Demers


C - Darcy Tucker, Chris Gratton, Mike Sillinger, Craig Janney, Vincent Lecavalier. RW - Stephane Richer, Benoit Hogue, Rob Zamuner, Mikael Andersson, Andrei Nazarov. LW - Wendel Clark, Alexander Selivanov, Sandy McCarthy, Steve Kelly, Brent Peterson. D - Cory Cross, Karl Dykhuis, David Wilkie, Jassen Cullimore, Pavel Kubina, Mike McBain, Kjell Samuelsson, Andrei Skopintsev. G - Bill Ranford, Daren Puppa, Corey Schwab.


Daren Puppa, g (groin injury, indefinite); Rob Zamuner, lw (groin injury, day-to-day).


Trade Mikael Renberg, rw, and Daymond Langkow, c, to the Philadelphia Flyers for Chris Gratton, c, and Mike Sillinger, c; assigned Enrico Ciccone, d, and Zac Bierk, g, to Cleveland (IHL).


12/11 Calgary      L 2-1
12/12 Islanders    W 2-1 OT
12/15 Pittsburgh   L 3-2
12/18 Edmonton     L 4-1
12/20 Philadelphia T 2-2
12/21 Boston       L 3-2


Southeast Division  GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA  
  Carolina          33  15  13   5    35   85   78   
  Florida           28  11  11   6    28   73   76 
  Washington        29   9  17   3    21   60   78  
  Tampa Bay         32   8  21   3    19   68  114 


by Seth Lerman, Tampa Bay Correspondent

The holiday season is supposed to be a time of happiness and good cheer, but for the Tampa Bay Lightning it is a time of sorrow. Winners of just two of the last 18 games, the Lightning are on track to be out of the playoff race by New Year's Day, a feat which will match last year's ineptitude.

In an effort to shake up the club, general manager/coach Jacques Demers corrected a mistake made by his predecessor, Phil Esposito, by requiring Chris Gratton, a former first-round draft pick from the Philadelphia Flyers along with Mike Sillinger. In return, Demers surrendered Mikael Renberg and Daymond Langkow.

"It's been an unbelievable day. I am a little tired, but it was fun," Gratton said following a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders. "A good win for our team. It hasn't sunk in yet. It's unbelievable tonight looking at blue shirts and not orange ones.

"Anytime you play in a particular spot for four years, you get to know the area," he added. "Yes, it's like being back home. We got some up and coming young players here, and tonight was very emotional."

"It hurts to lose Renberg and Langkow, but I think the Flyers are looking toward the Cup while we are trying to build a team," said coach Jacques Demers. "Maybe Gratton was meant to be a Lightning, and maybe Renberg was meant to be a Flyer. Being the big fish in the bowl, it fits Gratton perfectly."

The trade will make the Lightning a better team in the long run, but for now the losses keep on mounting. Following a 4-1 setback to the Edmonton Oilers on December 18, a team which skated circles around the Lightning, Demers said: "I'm fed up with losing hockey games." He should be.

The loss to the Oilers was the Lightning's eighth straight home loss which tied a franchise record. In that span, Tampa Bay has been outscored, 38-12. In an ironic twist of fate, one of the Lightning's two victories during their recent slump came at Edmonton on December 4th, a 2-1 decision.

Tampa Bay's last home win was a 3-1 decision on November 18th against New Jersey. They are 0-17-1 when allowing at least three goals. Against Edmonton, the Lightning were outshot 38-23, which is the fifth time this year Tampa Bay has given up at least that many shots.

There are many areas to place blame, but Demers refuses to allow his young players to be the focus of his anger. Instead, he puts the focus on several veteran players, Benoit Hogue, Bill Ranford, Karl Dykhuis, Sandy McCarthy, and Alexander Selivanov. "The veterans on this team are making too much money," he hollered. "No one wants them in trade, and this is not like football; I just can't release them."

One player who Demers praised is Wendel Clark. "Wendel Clark is the ultimate professional, probably wishes he signed with Dallas, where he could of gone, but he chose Tampa instead."

As the season moves along, expect Demers to make a few more changes. Refusing to surrender any of his younger players in trades for a quick fix, Demers might be forced to bite the bullet for the rest of the season or buy out the contracts of some players. "We have the highest payroll at Cleveland," he said. "I have guys there making a lot of money. They're not doing us any good."

In the meantime, expect the Lightning to struggle along, win an odd game here and there, and keep an eye on next season. After all, what else is there to do?

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