SUN Hockey Pool

Bolts sign Lecavalier

LANCE HORNBY and TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

With Vincent Lecavalier's name prominent in their successful quest for the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning decided it was best to get his signature on a long-term contract -- signing him to a four-year deal yesterday.

"This signing is absolutely huge for the Lightning franchise," general manager Jay Feaster said.

The deal is worth $27.5 million US. There was concern Lecavalier would take a one-year deal and enter the unrestricted free agent market in the summer of 2006.

Lecavalier had 32 goals and 34 assists and was plus-24 in 81 games with the Lightning in 2003-04, adding nine goals and seven assists in the playoffs.

The first overall pick in 1998, he has 146 goals and 181 assists in 467 career games. Lecavalier joins Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins' Joe Thornton as players whose clubs signed them long term to stop a bidding war next summer.

STUMPY STYMIED

Steve Thomas said he has not discussed a possible return to Toronto with Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson, but probably would answer the phone on one ring if he sees Air Canada Centre on his call display.

"I would love to play here again," Thomas, 42, said yesterday. "I've never won the Stanley Cup, and that's the only void in my career. What better place than to try to win it here?"

There was a report on Monday that Ferguson had been touch with Thomas regarding a contract for next season and speculation the contract would be a two-way deal to give Thomas some sort of role with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. But Thomas reiterated he had not talked to Ferguson and the latter won't comment.

Thomas began his career with the Leafs in 1984-85 and was back for another go with them in 1998. He had 22 points in 44 games with the Detroit Red Wings prior to the lockout.

RUSSIANS HOLDOUT

The Czech Republic Hockey Federation has opted into the transfer agreement between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation, leaving only Russia as the holdout.

USA NAMES COACH

Peter Laviolette, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, was named head coach of the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team yesterday. He led the Americans to a bronze medal at the 2004 hockey championship to ensure a berth in the 2006 Games.

ICE CHIPS

The Edmonton Oilers will announce today that Paul Coffey's No. 7 jersey will be raised to the rafters at Rexall Place during a game this season ... The Nashville Predators re-signed forward Steve Sullivan to a four-your contract on a one-year deal ... The Pittsburgh Penguins added another experienced forward to the lineup by re-signing right winger Konstantin Koltsov ... The Edmonton Oilers re-signed left winger Raffi Torres to a two-year deal ... The Hurricanes re-signed defenceman Glen Wesley to a $1-million, one-year contract ... The New York Islanders signed defenceman Brent Sopel to a two-year contract.

- With files from CP/AP/Sun Media.


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