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Rambler's Top100

10 2007 . 
Artyukhin wants trade; GM Feaster stands firm // "St. Petersburg Times", FL

The power forward, according to his agent,  has rejected Tampa Bay's one-year offer and signed to play another season in Russia.

By BY DAMIAN CRISTODERO

At its core, the dispute between the Lightning and Evgeny Artyukhin is about money.

The power forward, according to agent Mark Gandler, has rejected Tampa Bay's one-year, $475, 000 offer and signed to play another season in Russia, this time with Avangard Omsk.

But Gandler said Thursday that by offering the league minimum salary, general manager Jay Feaster wanted to punish Artyukhin for turning down offers before last season.

He said he has asked his client's rights be traded.

"I am surprised the team continued to build up the anger that was there a year ago, but now it's kind of busting through the seams, " Gandler said. "The offer in itself is proof of that anger. The punishment aspect of the offer is so obvious, it hits you right in the forehead."

Feaster did not hide his anger in August when Artyukhin turned down a one-year, $600, 000 contract and a two-year deal with salaries of $500, 000 and $700, 000.

He did not hide his consternation Thursday. "Clearly, " he said, "our current offer has nothing to do with anger or punishment."

Artyukhin, 24, could be a valuable addition for a team trying to improve its toughness. The 6-foot-4, 254-pounder is a punishing hitter, and had 90 penalty minutes in 77 games for Tampa Bay in 2005-06.

Whispers were Artyukhin wanted up to $1-million for 2006-07. Instead, he signed with Russia's Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and had five goals, 13 points and 183 penalty minutes in 44 games.

Feaster said the disappointing season factored into his offer, which he said is final:

"Our concern is being a full year removed from the NHL and playing our system, we have to spend training camp and the first two months of the season breaking old habits. We're going to have to spend time inculcating him to the way we want him to play instead of getting a player who advanced his career."

Still, hopes were high.

"But in this case, the offer made was significantly lower than the one presented to us a year ago, " said Gandler, who would not disclose what his client got from Omsk.

"And the punishment element. You've got to prove yourself. You've got to, as they say, shut your yapper and show up. ... Basically, he is not going to crawl back into the locker room and ask forgiveness of some people."

With little hope of reconciliation, Gandler said, "I would love for them to trade Evgeny, " who is not an unrestricted free agent until summer 2009.

Feaster called the request a non-starter. "I will not, " he said, "allow a player to dictate how we manage the hockey club."

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