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By MARTIN FENNELLY
Published: Jun 22, 2007


As fishy as Thursday's rumor was - Brad Richards on the Lightning trading block - you've got to admit it's a great way to get our playoff punching bag back in the newspaper.

The Toronto Sun reports the Lightning might be willing to offer Richards, The Man Who Would Be Captain, and his $7.8 million salary to true losers Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix for any of the first three picks in today's NHL draft.

The whole idea sounds Coyote ugly.

Then again, the Lightning dangled Vinny Lecavalier before last season and were closer to moving him to Vancouver for goaltender Roberto Luongo (A goaltender? What's that?) than you think.

Lightning GM Jay Feaster weighed the Richards rumor's merits:

"I am getting sick and tired of these rumors, and I am sick of these since before we won the Stanley Cup in 2004 when we weren't going to be able to keep Nik Khabibulin."

This Big Four on the block stuff makes no sense right now.

But it soon might.

Big Four Safe For Now

We begin with some observations.

First, this isn't the NHL draft to be trading up. There is no Crosby, no Ovechkin.

Second, the Toronto story mentions that the 27-year-old Richards could be expendable because the Lightning have picked up soon-to-be-32 Chris Gratton for the third time. Richards for Gratton. Yeah, right.

Third, the Lightning wouldn't dump Richards' salary because, if anything, the payroll is being bumped up. Why not? They finished seventh instead of eighth.

Fourth, if the Lightning were dumping salary, it would be to clear the decks for that ever elusive killer goalie, like Luongo.

Problem: Anaheim Cup winner J.S. Giguere, maybe worth offering up Richards or Lecavalier or Marty St. Louis or Dan Boyle, re-signed Thursday with the Ducks, four years at

$6 million per.

Fifth, the Toronto report quoted Chicago assistant GM and former Bolts GM Rick Dudley, who has a slight ax to grind with his former employer.

Sixth, the report said Dudley drafted Richards. Phil Esposito did.

"And what is truly disgusting about this latest report is the author doesn't even know who drafted Brad Richards," Feaster said.

Okie-dokie.

Even with all that, it's not crazed to think one or more of the Big Four could be moved, if not now, then, if not sooner, then later. Nothing should be off the table.

The Bolts are on the clock, including Feaster and Coach John "It comes down to goaltending" Tortorella.

Do you think this team is any less desperate this time around?

I have no doubt they would have shopped anyone if Giguere had really been in play.

The Lightning will keep looking.

And authors will keep authoring.

Oh, That Closing Window

FULL STORY
 

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These rumors are ABSOLUTE garbage. Brad, Vinny, Marty are not going anywhere. If jay Feaster is anything he is honest. He has never lied to the Lightning fans and is not now.
 
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