This is getting ugly

How upset is Tampa Bay Lightning management over forward Evgeny Artyukhin's decision earlier this month to sign with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Russian Super League? Read on.

Artyukhin, one of the Bolts' few remaining brutes now that playoff dipstick Chris Dingman is back home in Edmonton stocking shelves at the Maple Grocery on 107 Avenue NW, rejected Tampa Bay's offers of one-year for $600,000 or two years for $1.2 million, opting to instead return to his motherland.

Upon learning that Artyukhin, somewhat lovingly referred to as
"R2" by the Bolts' faithful, was leaving the heat and humidity of Florida's gulf coast, Lightning GM Jay Feaster, normally a reserved guy, was so incensed (how incensed was he, you ask?) that he told the St. Petersburg Times (Florida's, not Russia's, best newspaper) that the unrespectful player's decision "spits right in our face."

Not a pretty picture, eh?

Yesterday, in an exclusive question-and-answer session with Lightning season-ticket holders (we've stepped up from single-game purchases, meaning we'll see you at the Lightning's home opener Patrice), the subject of Artyukhin's departure rose its ugly, saliva-dripping head.

Coach John Tortorella, not one to mince words (remember when he threw goalie John Grahame under the bus following a 5-2 loss to Ottawa in Game 4 of last year's playoffs?), was up to his old tricks again.

"As far as I'm concerned," the Beantown native said, "Arty can rot in Russia."

Almost tellingly, and maybe something that Artyukhin's misguided agent Mark Gandler should pay attention to, a roar of laughter quickly rolled through the X0 Club at the St. Pete Times Forum.


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