Mar 15, 2013, 4:38 PM EDT
At 11-15-1 and seven points back of a playoff spot, the Tampa Bay Lightning have to be disappointed at how this season has unfolded.
Which begs the question: What will be done in response?
The answer could lie with the head coach, Guy Boucher, who’s fallen on hard times after breaking onto the scene three years ago with a 46-win regular season and a surprise appearance in the Eastern Conference finals.
Since then, Boucher and the Bolts have gone 49-51-9 and appear destined to miss the postseason a second straight time.
That’s not the only reason Boucher might be shown the door, though, as there are other issues surrounding his job security.
This has been off the charts in Tampa this season.
The goaltending situation has caused a great amount of acrimony, sure, but there have also been numerous quotes regarding the team’s overall lack of cohesion and ability to “put it all together.”
Steve Stamkos blasted the squad following a late February loss to the Rangers, calling Tampa’s effort ‘embarrassing.’ (Of note, it was the second time that month Stamkos referred to the Bolts’ play as embarrassing.)
Two weeks ago, Boucher said the Bolts were sabotaging themselves, making bad decisions at key moments of games.
After Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Islanders, Boucher was visibly frustrated at the Lightning’s failure to play a complete game.
“It’s the story of our year,” he said. “We can’t get everything together on the same day. It’s tough. It’s tough.”
The frustration theme has even worked its way into Boucher’s practice regimen.
On Friday, Boucher said he burnt out some of his guys prior to Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Panthers, admitting difficulty in gauging his team’s energy level.
“The game against Florida, I’ll be honest, we had a hard practice on the Monday and we didn’t have the same legs the next day,” Boucher explained. “It’s very, very delicate, the balance.
“Chicago just took two days off, completely, two days off, for their guys. So that balance this year is very difficult to find.”
Cooper is the head coach of Tampa’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse and is believed to be among the hottest young NHL coaching prospects around.
He led Norfolk — Tampa’s previous AHL affiliate — to a Calder Cup championship last year and captured the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the league’s most outstanding coach.
The concern for Bolts GM Steve Yzerman? Losing Cooper to another club.
Given the amount of coaching turnover in the NHL — there were seven in-season changes last season alone — it’s fair to suggest Cooper will garner some interest once the season ends and GMs go looking for new bench bosses.
Yzerman could nix all of this, of course, by promoting Cooper.
At the same time…
Yzerman essentially gave Boucher a vote of confidence earlier this month, saying not in the organization’s character to make knee-jerk reactions.
“We try to think things through and if something makes sense we’ll move on with it proceed with it,” he told the Tampa Tribune. “Virtually 12 months out of the year you are exploring ways to improve your team you are looking for opportunities you stay in touch to see if there is anything going on and occasionally something pops up that makes sense and you find a fit.
“But again nothing is going to be done as a knee-jerk reaction.”
Yzerman said Boucher and his coaching staff were “doing a good job” and “working hard,” suggesting changes weren’t imminent.
At the same time, it’s curious to note that Boucher has just one year remaining on his contract while his assistants — Dan Lacroix and Martin Raymond — have their deals expire in June.
Jul 28, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
He attempted to make the transition to North America in 2013-14.
Jul 28, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
The two sides are unlikely to agree to terms quickly though.
Jul 28, 2014, 4:37 PM EDT
Yashin and Bure are among the players that will compete against Los Angeles.
Jul 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“I was told there’s a definite opportunity.”
Jul 28, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT
Former Anaheim forward posted a career high in points last year.
Jul 28, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT
With Riley Sheahan also signed, the only RFA left is Danny DeKeyser.
Jul 28, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
He’s appeared in over 150 NHL games with Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota.
Jul 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Veteran goalie is high on his young teammates.
Jul 28, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
“It’ll be done before camp.”
Jul 28, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
Appeared in 83 games for Calgary over the last three seasons.
Jul 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They’ll be dancing close to the upper limit all year.
Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
That and the rest of the links to start your day.
Jul 27, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
He last played in 2001 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
He’s played four full seasons there already.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
He has a few guys that can help make it happen there.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
He was their final restricted free agent.
Jul 27, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
He emerged as the team’s No. 2 center last season.
Jul 27, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
That adds another layer to the Flames’ goaltending competition.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
He has played in 132 NHL games.
Jul 27, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
It led to him having a minor procedure.
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