Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/8/13
Not many new faces dot the roster for the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into the opening of training camp on Wednesday. But one will be the center of attention. Free-agent acquisition Valtteri Filppula landed with Tampa Bay on the opening day of free agency signing a five-year $25 million contract after spending eight seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization the past seven in the NHL. After Tampa Bay bought out the remaining seven years on franchise icon Vinny Lecavalier’s contract in late June the Lightning needed to fill the void at second-line center. Filppula was the primary target of general manager Steve Yzerman who knew Filppula well from Yzerman’s days as an executive with the Red Wings. Filppula who showed up in Tampa this week to begin informal skates with his new teammates is ready to start the next chapter of his career. “It’s going to be exciting” Filppula said. “Hopefully it will be a good season for us and I’m looking forward to it.’’ Before arriving in Tampa Filppula made a stop in Detroit for one last skate at Joe Louis Arena with his former teammates. It wasn’t exactly planned as a way to close the chapter on his Red Wings days but it played out that way as he parted ways with familiar faces in familiar places before embarking on his new destination. “I turned the page pretty quick after I signed to play here but I still have a place there and it was a good place to skate” said Filppula 29. “It wasn’t really that hard to be honest. I have a lot of good friends so it was a lot of fun (to go back). I was there for a long time so in that way it was tough to leave. But I’m more so excited about the upcoming season.” Filppula signed with Tampa Bay on July 5 eight days after Lecavalier’s buyout. The natural inclination then is to view Filppula as the replacement for Lecavalier. But Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he will go into training camp with no preconceived notions regarding Filppula’s role or what line he will play on when the season opens Oct. 3. Cooper has never seen Filppula play in person and knows the player only from tape so he will see how things play out in training camp and during the preseason. Lecavalier the No. 1 overall pick by the Lightning in 1998 has 383 goals and 491 assists in 1037 career games. Filppula also a left-handed shot has 100 goals and 151 assists in 483 career games.
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