Thursday, July 15, 2010

Swell-ter time

So, how hot did it get outside the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Lightning's Young Guns prospect development camp? How about 102 degrees? Is that hot enough? It was for us.

Rather than brave the heat, though, we took refuge in an air-conditioned vehicle, set at a comfortable 78 degrees, emerging only as opportunities for autographs approached. As you can imagine, the heat, humidity and an approaching thunderstorm were topics of conversation:

"No, this happens every afternoon, about this time, from June to who knows when," I told goalie prospect Dustin Tokarski. "That's why you're called the Lightning."

"Yes," I told Lightning scout Pat Verbeek as he signed this puck, "it's always this hot during the summer."

Beyond the weather, and specific Young Gun projects, Colin and I gathered a nice array of souvenirs, including four pucks from the Lightning's new GM Steve Yzerman and a team sheet, during camp.

For as many of these that were available during the camp, I didn't see too many people getting them signed by Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay's top pick, at sixth overall, at the NHL Entry Draft last month. It's my guess, too, this is one of the first Lightning pieces showing Connolly.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a sale at the American Hockey League's website and picked up a handful of Norfolk Admirals pucks, the Lightning's AHL affiliate. Goalie prospect Jaroslav Janus, left, and defenseman Ty Wishart signed this pair.

After the scrimmage, Colin had some prospects, including Carter Ashton (above "Tampa"), 2010 third-pound pick Adam Janosik (in silver at bottom of logo), Richard Panik (below the "28"), and Dustin Tokarski (left of logo) sign this team card.

The camp was also a time to plug a few gaps in specialty card sets, like this 2009-10 AHL Top Prospects card for Ty Wishart, who played last season for Norfolk.

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