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Jacques Demers


C - Darcy Tucker, Chris Gratton, Mike Sillinger, Vincent Lecavalier, Xavier Delisle. RW - Mikael Andersson, Alexandre Daigle, Sandy McCarthy, Michael Nylander, Jason Bonsignore. LW - Wendel Clark, Benoit Hogue, Stephane Richer, Rob Zamuner, Robert Petrovicky, Brent Peterson. D - Cory Cross, Petr Svoboda, David Wilkie, Jassen Cullimore, Pavel Kubina, Kjell Samuelsson, Drew Bannister, Andrei Skopintsev, Karei Betik. G - Bill Ranford, Daren Puppa, Corey Schwab.


Daren Puppa, g (groin injury, out for season); Drew Bannister, d (broken foot, day-to-day); Mikael Andersson, lw (knee injury, indefinite).


Recall Jason Bonsignore, rw, from Cleveland (IHL); recall Brent Peterson, lw, from Cleveland (IHL); assign Derek Wilkinson, g, to Cleveland.


02/26 Philadelphia W 4-1
03/02 Washington   L 8-2
03/04 Colorado     W 2-1
03/06 Montreal     W 6-1
03/08 Ottawa       L 9-3


Southeast Division  GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA   
  Carolina          65  29  23  13    71  168  158  
  Florida           63  23  23  17    63  165  170  
  Washington        63  27  31   5    59  167  168  
  Tampa Bay         63  15  43   5    35  136  230


by Seth Lerman, Tampa Bay Correspondent

Art Williams owned the Tampa Bay Lightning for exactly nine months. The former insurance magnate, who purchased the Lightning for a reported $117 million, sold the team and the rights to the Ice Palace to Detroit Pistons owner William Davidson on March 3 for $115 million. Williams said that he has lost $20 million on the Lightning this season.

Davidson owns an entertainment empire which includes the NBA's Detroit Pistons and the IHL's Detroit Vipers, as well as the Palace of Auburn Hills arena in suburban Detroit.

"We're in it for the long haul," said Tom Wilson, president of the Pistons and the Davidson-owned Palace Entertainment Group. "We're not coming in to fail. We're coming in to make this team a thing Tampa can be proud of, and a benchmark franchise in the league."

Fans in Tampa will remember that Williams said almost the same thing when he took over ownership from Kokusai Green, a Japanese holding company less than a year ago.

"I haven't been coming to games recently for a simple reason - this team broke my heart," said Williams in early February to the Tampa Tribune. "I couldn't have been happier the first month of the season...then the bottom fell out. I've been more upset with the constant losing than all the money coming out of my wallet. This has been a painful experience for me."

As for now, no changes are planned in the hockey operations where Jacques Demers is in his second season as coach and first season as general manager. He has three years remaining on a contract that he signed last October.

The Lightning currently hold the worst record in the National Hockey League. The average attendance is 10,894 which is barely more than half of the Ice Palace searing capacity.

"I had an amount in my mind that I could afford to lose over four, five seasons," said Williams to the St. Petersburg Times. "I lost that amount in less than one season."

The question remains: Can hockey survive in Florida? Wilson believes it can - and will. "You've got a core of about 8,000 or 9,000 hockey fans here and that's much better than what we had in Detroit with the Pistons," said Wilson to the Tampa Bay Tribune. "There were times when we were winning just 16 or 18 games a year and getting 1,500 people out to watch us, and we were wondering why they came. We had one of the worst basketball teams in captivity, but 10 years later we were hanging banners. It just took time to get it right."

As for the on-ice product, Williams and Demers are in agreement of how this franchise should be built - with young players. "You start with a corps of young players and then you want to start building around them," he said. "It takes time, sort of like when you're building a baseball team, but eventually, after two or three years, you hopefully get to the point where you can add a couple of big-name players to put you where you want to be. That's the philosophy anyway."

For now, Billy McGehee will remain as president, but Wilson reiterated that he will spend the next few months evaluating all facets of the Lightning operation.

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