As the Lightning get set to embark on the opening of another season with Saturday's opener in Atlanta, Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet would like to tell everybody to shut their yaps.
It seems that throughout last season there were plenty of voices offering all kinds of opinions on the team. Even co-owner Len Barrie boldly predicted a Southeast Division championship for the franchise.
But with the fewest victories in the league and the second-fewest points, the Lightning finished - statistically - worse than the season before, when they were 30th overall.
As far as Tocchet is concerned, all the talking from last year needs to be replaced.
"There was too much talking last year, I think by everybody, and it's time to just shut up and play. I think that's kind of our motto this year," Tocchet said. "We are turning the page. There are lots of guys here who have a lot to prove, there's guys here that are tired of last year. There's a new coaching staff here. I think there are a lot of positive things, a lot of new things.
"But you can learn from your mistakes from last year, the coaching staff has, the players have and I think that's what we are hanging our hat on this year. This is a new season for us, we're not going to overhype ourselves, and I think that's a big key for us to keep our mouths shut and just go out and play."
Tampa Bay will open the season with a pair of road games against division opponents Atlanta and Carolina. That's just fine, as far as Tocchet is concerned, because there will be an emphasis put on the games within the Southeast Division.
Last year the Lightning were awful against division opponents, posting a 5-15-4 record.
"I'm glad we are playing two division games right off the bat," Tocchet said. "That's a big stress for me to create that little bit of these four-point games, these are not just regular-season games, these are going to be really nasty, playoff-style games. We are going into Atlanta ready to put up a good fight."
Oates might stick around
Indications are Adam Oates, who has been with the team as an unpaid consultant since the start of training camp as a favor to Tocchet, might be brought on as an additional coach. Oates has been working almost exclusively with the power-play unit, which was successful at a 24-percent clip during the preseason.
Oates, a teammate of Tocchet's during stops with Boston and Washington, said Thursday he was scheduled to sit down and talk soon with Lightning general manager Brian Lawton.
Tocchet didn't give any hints as to Oates' immediate future, but said, "I'll probably have one more dinner with him (Thursday) and see where his head is at. I would like to have him. He's added a lot to us."
Nuts and bolts
According to Bodog.com, an Internet gambling site, the odds Tampa Bay will win the Stanley Cup this season are 70-to-1. Only Colorado, Phoenix, Atlanta and the New York Islanders have longer odds. The Lightning are 33-to-1 to win the Eastern Conference championship, the over/under on their point total this season is 85.5. ... The team will practice today at 11 a.m. before departing for Atlanta at 3 p.m.