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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning notes: Cancer claims former assistant Fleming

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Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming died on Monday following a nearly two-year battle with brain cancer.

Fleming, 62, served as an assistant on Guy Boucher’s staff during the 2010-11 season before being diagnosed with a brain tumor prior to the start of the 2011 playoffs. He underwent surgery in April of that year and had been at his family’s home in Calgary since.

Fleming passed away in his sleep.

“Wayne has had a long, tough, hard battle and it’s a difficult time for his family,’’ Lightning assistant coach Dan Lacroix said. “But personally, the grieving process started a long time ago knowing what he was going through. We hate to see a friend and somebody in pain and going through the difficult times like this.’’

Fleming spent most of his life involved with hockey, serving as an assistant coach with Edmonton, Calgary, Philadelphia, Phoenix, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay.

He also spent time with Team Canada, serving as general manager for the 1990 Olympic team, won a silver medal with the 1992 national team and was a member of the coaching staff that won gold in Salt Lake City in 2002 with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman as a player.

“Wayne was an extremely important part of the Lightning family on and off the ice during his time here. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Lightning organization go out to Wayne’s wife, Carolyn, and the entire Fleming family,” Yzerman said in a statement.

During his year with the Lightning, Fleming was a key member of Boucher’s staff, running many of the special teams. He stayed in contact with the team at the start of the 2011 postseason before having surgery.

“To us, what we saw first and foremost was a great family man, a proud father of four kids, seven grandchildren, really proud,’’ Lacroix said. “He enjoyed life … he enjoyed Tampa and the time he spent here.

“And on a professional level, to me, he was more than an assistant. He was a mentor to myself and Marty Raymond. He was a smart, sharp experienced hockey guy that had been through a lot of different scenarios. He was a very good leader, a good teacher and a very competitive guy. He hated to lose and was as prepared and organized as any coach I met.’’

Sustr arrives  Amid all the changes with the Lightning the previous 48 hours, newly signed defenseman Andrej Sustr arrived in town and skated with the team Tuesday for the first time.

Sustr was signed as a free agent from the University of Nebraska-Omaha last week after choosing the Lightning over several other NHL teams interested in signing the 6-foot-8, 200-pound blue-liner.

Sustr said it was the Lightning’s recent track record with young players that convinced him to sign with Tampa Bay.

“Tampa has been doing great with the young players they are developing,’’ Sustr said. “A couple years down the road, I think I’m going to get my real opportunity to be with this team and be a regular NHL player.’’

The Lightning’s plan is to give Sustr time to adjust to his new surroundings, get in some practices with the team and evaluate when he might make his NHL debut. Sustr is also eligible to play for Tampa Bay’s minor-league affiliate in Syracuse.

In the meantime, Sustr is trying to take everything in, soak up as much information as he can and be ready when he is called upon.

“It’s something you always dream of, to be able to come in and be an NHL player and come play with an NHL team and it’s happening right now,’’ he said. “I’m enjoying it, and I’m glad I’m here in Tampa. It’s just been really exciting for me.’’

Lee sent down With Sustr added to the roster, the Lightning assigned D Brian Lee to Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

Lee was placed on waivers Friday and cleared without being claimed by another team on Saturday, but he remained with the club through the end of the recently completed three-game road trip.

The 25-year-old had been a healthy scratch for the previous seven games.

He was acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline last season for D Matt Gilroy and was re-signed to a two-year contract in the summer. But in 22 games this season, Lee did not register a point and has a team worst minus-13 rating.

Nuts and Bolts LW B.J. Crombeen missed his second straight game with an undisclosed lower-body injury suffered when he was hit low by Ottawa’s Marc Methot on Saturday. … LW Benoit Pouliot (right shoulder) returned to the lineup after missing 11 games. … LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) was put on injured reserve.

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