By DAMIAN CRISTODERO St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer
Lightning center Eric Perrin said every time he was on the ice during Saturday’s scrimmage, he reminded himself what is at stake.
Right wing Adam Hall said he remembered to stay within his game and not try to do too much.
“You have to take what the game gives you,” Hall said. “It’s a fun opportunity. Go for it.”
What both players are after is a return to the NHL, and both understand the enormity of the task.
Tampa Bay’s roster largely is set. A couple of spots are legitimately up for grabs, but even those have front-runners. For Perrin and Hall, there also are reputations to re-establish and perceptions to overcome.
Perrin, 34, played last season in Russia and is here on a tryout with no guarantees. Hall, 30, despite an NHL contract, played last season for AHL Norfolk. And as a general rule, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman admitted, “Those guys don’t get back, usually.”
But with a combination of pride, confidence and perhaps desperation, Perrin and Hall said they are determined to make the organization’s final personnel decisions tough ones.
“They know what it takes,” Yzerman said. “They know how important it is for them to make a good showing. They’ve been around. They’re streetwise. We’re going to give them an opportunity.”
It began in front of a standing-room-only crowd of about 800 at the Ice Sports Forum, where the White team beat the Black 6-2 in a 40-minute scrimmage. More important than the score: getting noticed.
Perrin gave up the puck when Richard Panik drilled him into the boards. But he got up, back-checked hard and stole the puck in the defensive zone.
Hall, a bulldog around the net and a penalty killer, drove behind the goal line and almost scored on a wraparound.
“A good first day,” Hall said.
Better than last season, when, in the second year of a three-year, $1.8 million deal the Lightning gave him in July 2008, then-GM Brian Lawton sent him to the minors without, Hall believes, a fair chance in camp.
“I felt like a decision was already made,” said Hall, who has 56 goals and 118 points in 426 NHL games.
“It was tough for me to take, but I’ve never been the type to dwell on things like that. It doesn’t help. You just go out now as a fresh opportunity, an exciting opportunity, to prove what I can offer to this team.”
Perrin, a member of Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup team who had 13 goals for the Lightning in 2006-07, offers speed and a pesty defensive sensibility.
“I know what my game is, and I’m going to try to bring those positive, good things,” said Perrin, who acknowledged, given his age, this could be his last chance to get back to the show. “I know what I can do. I’m going to do it to my fullest, and hopefully that’s enough.”
That Yzerman knows both players can’t hurt. Yzerman, when he was with the Red Wings, faced Hall when the wing was with division rival Nashville.
“They were productive in the NHL before,” Yzerman said. “I think there’s an opportunity for them.”
Said Hall: “That’s all I’m looking for.”
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