TAMPA - The captain will not be back.
After hinting about things for about a week, Tim Taylor made it official Saturday: He will not return to the lineup this season, meaning his 13-year career is over. Taylor had been offered the chance by the coaching staff to play in the season-ending game Saturday in Atlanta.
"What it came down to, personally for me, and it went through my mind to play, but I went on line and read some blogs," Taylor said. "And somebody said on one of the comments, why would I want to come back and do it just for personal reasons. That's not what I ever wanted this to be. If the team was in a good situation and they were in the playoff drive or getting ready for the playoffs, sure. But with where we are, that won't happen."
Taylor said he would rather remember the Game 6 loss to New Jersey in the playoffs as his last game instead of a meaningless season-ender.
"I don't want to go out there and play two shifts, that's not hockey to me," he said.
Taylor will accompany the team on the final three-game road trip, which begins Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C., against the Hurricanes. After that, he and his family will move back to their home in Ontario this summer. Though nothing has formally been discussed with Lightning officials, Taylor hopes to remain a part of the organization in some capacity and has expressed an interest in doing some scouting, which would allow him to remain in Canada.
O'BRIEN OUT; SMITH, LUK IN: The Lightning played a game of lineup shuffling Saturday as D Shane O'Brien was a healthy scratch, while G Mike Smith and D Brad Lukowich were back to action.
Lukowich missed the past 21 games with a sports hernia injury, a setback that normally requires an extensive recovery period. Lukowich's recovery, however, was substantially cut down with a less-invasive surgery performed in Germany.
Smith, who sat out the past two games with a left knee strain, skated for the third consecutive and was healthy enough to serve as the backup Saturday. Smith could return to the net in the home finale Monday against Atlanta.
O'Brien, meanwhile, was scratched a day after he didn't practice, instead working out on his own for what Lightning coach John Tortorella said was a "separate workout" but didn't expand the reasoning. O'Brien declined to discuss the situation.
With O'Brien missing his first game of the year, only C Vinny Lecavalier and RW Marty St. Louis have appeared in all 78 games this season.
FAN APPRECIATION: For Monday's home finale against Atlanta, the team is offering free hot dogs, ice cream, cotton candy, peanuts and popcorn from 5:30-7:45 p.m. Player cards and team posters will also be given away. The Lightning girls will be giving away the shirts off their backs while fans will have the chance to cut a piece of the game-used nets postgame inside Shots.
NUTS AND BOLTS: G Karri Ramo recorded his first career point with an assist on Jussi Jokinen's second-period power-play goal. ... C Jeff Halpern has nine goals in 15 games with the Lightning.