Yes, John Tortorella said, he had a few high-decibel exchanges with Andre Roy during their time together in Tampa.
And yeah, some of them were a bit less than civil. OK, a lot less than civil.
And, true, he pulled Roy out of a playoff game against Washington in 2002 because of undisciplined play, then left him in Florida when the series shifted to the District of Columbia.
But despite all that -- and probably a lot more -- Tortorella, coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, insists that Roy was an asset to his team, which won the Stanley Cup in 2004. And that the impact of his absence since Roy signed with the Penguins as a free agent in the summer of 2005 still is being felt.
"We miss a personality like that," Tortorella said yesterday. "As I've always said, I don't think you need a team full of [players who say], 'Yes, sir. How hard can I go through that wall for you?' I think you need some disturbers on your club [to] add some of the conflict that goes into a locker room. I think it's healthy.
"If you're asking about Andre Roy, do I miss him? Yeah. Did we have some battles? Yeah. But that's all part of going through a situation."
Tortorella cited "our team concept" as one of the issues over which he and Roy skirmished, but praised the physical dimension Roy can add to a team, even while lamenting that its value has declined since the league put a renewed emphasis on speed and skill.
"He brings that element to the game," Tortorella said. "It's not as much needed now in our game. I wish it was. I think our game's going in the wrong direction that way. I think we need that physicality back in our game, that type of intimidation.
"I still think we need to get our game back to that. I think we're a bunch of gentlemen playing out there now."
Orpik feels good
Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from hand surgery, was in the Penguins' lineup for the second time last night, when they faced the Lightning at Mellon Arena.
Orpik made his 2006-07 debut in the Penguins' 3-2 overtime loss at Anaheim Monday -- "That team has to be one of the best, when it comes to team speed," he said -- and reported no significant problems after logging 11 minutes, 25 seconds of ice time.
"I felt good the other night, so I'll just try to build on that," he said.
Orpik described his hand as being "pain-free," although he allowed that it still is not as strong as it was before he was injured.
"Once you get in the game, you get so caught up in the emotion of the game that [the injury] is something you really don't think about," he said. "The only time I really, really notice it is toward the end of practices, when it gets a little weak when you're shooting."
Kuba gives Lightning a boost
Tampa Bay became the final NHL team to get a goal from its defense when Filip Kuba scored two in a 5-1 victory on Long Island Monday, but those won't be the only ones Kuba contributes this season.
He still is adjusting to the Lightning's attacking style after joining Tampa Bay as a free agent in July. That is no surprise since Kuba had been operating in Minnesota's defensive-oriented system.
"He's beginning to understand what we want out of him, offensively," Tortorella said. "We want him up the ice as much as he can. ... We know that he's going to, defensively, understand the positioning of the game, because he's played under [Wild coach] Jacques Lemaire, and I know he's been taught very well there."
Forward Ryan Malone, who has missed the past six games while recovering from a broken forearm, worked out on the ice with conditioning coach Stephane Dube before yesterday's game-day skate. ... Rookie Evgeni Malkin got at least one goal in each of his first six games in the league. To put that feat into perspective, consider that five current NHLers who have more than 350 career goals never had a goal-scoring streak longer than five games. They are Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Rod Brind'Amour, Scott Mellanby and Trevor Linden.