DETROIT Former Columbus general manager and prospective Lightning owner Doug MacLean is normally a chatty individual willing to share his thoughts with whomever he is in contact with.
But these days he's been noticeably quiet, not returning any media requests.
"I'm sure he's being very selective in returning calls,'' said John Vanbiesbrouck, the former Florida goaltender under MacLean and current television analyst for HD Net.
Since the deal to purchase the Lightning by Absolute Hockey Enterprises, of which MacLean is a member, blew up with the termination of the contract offer and subsequent lawsuit filed by Absolute Hockey on Monday, none of the principals in the situation are talking. That includes Oren Koules, the Hollywood producer who has been accused by Absolute of going behind their backs in an attempt to broker his own deal, and MacLean. Koules recently responded to an e-mail sent by The Tribune declining to speak while MacLean hasn't responded.
But Vanbiesbrouck said that if anybody can patch things up in the fractured ownership group, it's MacLean.
"I think he must be the guy in this situation who is trying to solve the problem because he is a problem solver,'' Vanbiesbrouck said.
Yet Vanbiesbrouck said he can't help but feel for MacLean, who displayed genuine enthusiasm during the summer leading up to the Aug. 5 announcement that a deal had been reached to sell the Lightning to Absolute Hockey.
"I spent some time with him this summer and he was so excited, he couldn't tell us what was going on, but that it was big,'' Vanbiesbrouck said. "He is a guy who has worked himself up from an assistant coach, to a head coach, to a president of a team and owner is the next logical step in that and I know he was really ecstatic when the deal came together.
"I'm sure that he is disappointed.''
NEW SCHEDULE: The NHL Board of Governors approved a new schedule format - which is actually the old format - to be implemented starting next season in the first day of meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif.
After a three-year cycle in which teams played 10 out-of-conference games, the league will revert back to the schedule in use the year before the lockout. The formula calls for six games against each division opponent, four games against each conference opponent, 15 games - one each against the opposing conference - with three wild-card games likely to be played against the opposite conference.
NUTS AND BOLTS: Select Lightning players will go shopping at Dick's Sporting Goods in Brandon on Monday with 68 kids from Metropolitan Ministries Academy. Each student will have a $100 gift certificate to shop beginning at 2:30 p.m. ... C Andreas Karlsson was a healthy scratch for the fourth consecutive game.