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OTTAWA -Maybe Oren Koules and Len Barrie are going to be a two-headed version of Mark Cuban. Maybe, as some in the hockey industry suggest, they're going to turn the Tampa Bay Lightning upside down with their idiosyncratic notions of ownership activism.

Maybe even Steven Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier together won't be able to save the Bolts from the storm that's coming. "Nobody knows what the heck is going on there," one prominent GM said. But even if all of the above turn out to be true, let it also be said that the new Lightning owners have heart.

On the second day of the NHL draft, after taking Stamkos first overall Friday night, the Lightning drafted young Alaskan-born defenceman David Carle, younger brother of San Jose blueliner Matt Carle, with the 203rd pick.

The day before, however, David Carle had circulated a letter to all 30 NHL clubs informing them that despite being the 60th-ranked North American skater he was withdrawing from the draft because he had been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart ailment discovered by doctors during testing for the NHL combine last month.

Koules, producer of Hollywood gore movies, knows the Carle family and understood the deep disappointment of the young man. The Bolts took Carle anyway, just so he'd be able to say he was drafted into the NHL.

Awwwww. Just how crazy are these two Tampa owners, anyway?

The brash Barrie, a spectacular junior star who was only 32 when he retired from pro hockey after spending the 2000-01 season with the Florida Panthers, is one of those rare individuals who leaves urban legends in his wake.

He made his fortune from the spectacular and controversial Bear Mountain golf development in Victoria. He decided to build his own golf course after being expelled from a conservative club for chopping trees he claimed were on his property. At Bear Mountain, he was accused of desecrating sacred First Nation caves during construction and for committing "cultural genocide."

"If we want to blow up a cave and put up a hotel, we will," Barrie said in one infamous quote.

The development made Barrie and his investors, many of them former NHL players, hundreds of millions of dollars and he has parlayed that into a hockey partnership with Koules, whom he met in December after being brought together by Luc Robitaille.

"Oren and I are 50/50 on control," Barrie said yesterday, looking more rock star than NHL owner with spiky, gelled hair, an open shirt and a heavy gold chain around his neck. "I can tell you we didn't get into this to drink wine and sit in a luxury box."

Stories of Barrie and Koules calling other NHL teams directly to discuss player moves, with Lightning GM Jay Feaster left to figure out the details, are already popular gossip topics in hockey circles. They've brushed the mothballs off Barry Melrose to come in as head coach and former NHLer Wes Walz, a Barrie buddy, has been hired as an assistant coach. Names from Brian Lawton to Rick Tocchet have been linked to the club and Barrie might be appointed team president.

So the league that wouldn't welcome Jim Balsillie and is regretting its loosey-goosey acceptance of William (Boots) Del Biaggio, it would seem, now has two new wild cards in Barrie and Koules.

"For me, the timing is about 10 years ahead of what I thought it would be," said Barrie, a friendly sort with contagious enthusiasm. "But you've got to get in the game. It's about opportunity and timing, whether you're a player wanting to play, or whether you're looking for an opportunity to be an owner."

He bristled over suggestions he lacks the requisite experience to run an NHL club. "What experience did I have when we started Bear Mountain? And we have 700 employees today," he said.

So it's going to be different, certainly anything but snoozy and maybe a little wacky in Tampa.

Then again, nobody else drafted David Carle.

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So let's say your team wanted a new 1st line. How about a top unit of Cammalleri-Jokinen-Tanguay? Sound good?

You could have had ALL THREE for 2 mid first round picks, a 2008 second rounder, a 2009 second rounder, and a couple of number 4/5 defensemen.

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