PHT Morning Skate: Where Mike Smith just won’t cut his hair

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Mike Smith isn’t cutting his hair during the playoffs… Because he’s trying to win a bet with former Lightning teammate Ryan Malone. (Globe And Mail)

The Kings’ top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams is already giving the Coyotes headaches after one game. (Los Angeles Times)

Dwight King is quite enjoying things with fellow mid-season rookie call-up Jordan Nolan. Manchester, New Hampshire has never been prouder. (L.A. Kings Insider)

Joe Thornton has a lot to say including his feelings about Todd McLellan coming back or not (he thinks he should) and how his job is to just play hockey. Easy there, captain. (

The Wild’s new play-by-play voice for TV will be Anthony LaPanta and the fans aren’t exactly liking the choice. (Russo’s Rants, Hockey Wilderness)

Bob McKenzie talks about the coaching moves of the summer and who might be going where. (TSN)

Carey Price’s summer is going to be a fascinating one in Montreal thanks to having to get a new deal worked out. (Montreal Gazette)

Vladimir Tarasenko is going to give the Blues agita worrying whether or not he’s coming over from Russia next season. (Post-Dispatch)

Speaking of players who may or may not come over from Russia: Flames goalie Karri Ramo. (Calgary Sun)

The Lightning might be looking for a coaching consultant as assistant coach Wayne Fleming is battling brain cancer. (Lightning Strikes)

Mike Fisher and his wife (you may have heard of Carrie Underwood) are going to be interviewed by Oprah. (Puck The Media)

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.