Source: GM in charge of hockey matters
Feuding Tampa Bay Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday and the end result, a source told ESPN.com, is that GM Brian Lawton will be the point man for all hockey matters.
Last offseason, a source told ESPN.com, both owners were cutting deals with player agents on July 1 at the same time Lawton was fielding offers -- an arrangement all three had agreed upon. But given the deterioration of the relationship between Barrie and Koules, such an agreement won't work this offseason.
Part of the reason for the meeting with Bettman is that Lawton and Koules feared Barrie would try to sign his own players next week.
A source said Tuesday that the meeting with Bettman ended and it was agreed that Lawton would handle all contact with player agents and other GMs -- in other words, all signings and trades.
In the meantime, the team is facing several serious decisions. First, the Lightning must decide whether to trade Vincent Lecavalier, although Lawton has repeatedly told the Tampa media he is not looking to move Lecavalier. The two owners seem to be on different pages on that matter.
Second, the Lightning must decide what to do if the New York Islanders take Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman instead of center John Tavares with the first overall pick in the NHL draft Friday night. Do they draft Tavares, even though they need a defenseman, or see what other teams want to offer for the second overall pick?
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.
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