Guy Boucher, Wayne Fleming

Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming appears awake, alert after surgery

Every once in a while, a sports team is rocked when someone close to them faces a grave health condition. It seems trivial to say that they’re “winning it” for that person, but those wins must seem sweeter when they do.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a shocking 3-0 series lead with their resourceful Game 3 win, but the victory didn’t seem to be the first thing on their minds. Instead, the team seemed to bask in a different success. Bruce Arthur reports that assistant coach Wayne Fleming was alert and responsive after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Arthur wrote that Fleming escaped paralysis thanks to that surgery, which lasted eight hours. Despite these personal struggles, Fleming still sent every player on the team messages of encouragement and/or advice.

Before the game, Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming endured an eight-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor at the UC Irvine Douglas Hospital in California. Fleming had sent players text messages after each of the first two games — “I think he texted every guy on the team,” said Stamkos — with advice.

At this point, it’s the other guys could use wise counsel. Just after Tampa’s third-period surge, the team announced Fleming was alert and talking — Fleming’s son Jarett said his father had escaped the possibility of paralysis, but was unable to say much more than “I love you.” Before the surgery, his family had said their goodbyes, just in case. Today, they will have better news to share.

As great as the Lightning’s run has been, their mixture of young talent and still-in-their-prime players bodes well for their future. Hopefully Fleming will be around to witness that maturation process. If he could eventually do so back behind their bench, then even better.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.