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Handicapping possible Lightning head coaches

Mar 24, 2013, 11:01 AM EDT

Lindy Ruff Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a vacancy to fill now that Guy Boucher has been fired.

Team GM Steve Yzerman has a big decision to make on who to have take over the reigns of his scoring talented/defensively hampered team. Who are the candidates to pick from? Here’s a short list.

Lindy Ruff — The former Buffalo Sabres head coach is the available veteran. He’s close with Yzerman after the two worked together on the 2010 Canadian Olympic team. His track record in Buffalo is more than solid having coached there from 1997 until this season when he was fired by the Sabres. If Yzerman wants a guy with a wealth of experience, Ruff is there for the taking and TSN’s Bob McKenzie says they could be going for a veteran guy now.

Jon Cooper — The current head coach of the Lightning’s AHL team, the Syracuse Crunch, Cooper has a ton of experience working with many of the guys on the current roster. Cooper led the Norfolk Admirals to the Calder Cup last season and has the Crunch (it’s still the same team, just in a new place) at the top of the standings this year even in spite of all the call-ups.

The only question with Cooper is whether or not Yzerman would opt for another guy with no NHL head coaching experience. McKenzie says some of the Lightning veterans started tuning out Boucher. Would bringing in Cooper just be a continuation of that?

Dallas Eakins — The Toronto Marlies head coach is a guy who could be ready for an NHL job, but the Lightning would have to A) ask the Maple Leafs for permission to interview him and B) Decide a guy without NHL experience is a good fit. It’s not likely he’d be a pick here, but he’ll get an NHL job sometime soon, just probably not in Central Florida.

Mike SullivanLarry Brooks of the New York Post mentions him as a guy who could get consideration. He’s currently John Tortorella’s assistant in New York but his last head job came in Boston back in 2003-04 and 05-06 with the Bruins. Sullivan was an assistant in Tampa Bay in 07-08 so he’s connected to the team there. Question here is whether or not he has his eyes set on going for the head job at Boston University.

  1. millertime30 - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Oh Lindy…
    You came and you gave without taking
    But we sent you away

    ..Oh Lindyyyy 😦

  2. kgun80 - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Ruff would be a good choice… Their players fit his style… fast paced.. Quick transition. Lindy was a good coach here he just had a horrible year and it was time for the team to move in a different direction.

    • 19to77 - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Ruff would get respect from the veterans, but this is a team getting younger, not older – a lot of the veterans are part of the problem, not the solution. Malone, Brewer, Bergeron, these guys aren’t getting new contracts in Tampa. St. Louis, as great as he is, has only a few years left. The future is largely in the hands of guys who’ve played for John Cooper already.

      Not saying Ruff’s a bad choice – he’s completely the opposite – but Cooper might be the better fit with their players.

      • mathieug79 - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        agreed, Lecavalier is too slow for our team, he would actually be perfect for the sedins, who after they enter the zone, they wait on their teammates to pass the puck, but if Vancouver wants Lecavalier (which I doubt would happen) Tampa would have to take on a contract of equal or greater value, which would probably mean Luongo. I think with the buyout rules in the new CBA could work for both teams, if either player doesn’t pan out. they can be both bought out and not be included in their salary cap sometimes down the road.

        As for the Coaching job, I pick Ruff over Jon Cooper, I liked Boucher, and I like Cooper but we need someone who has experience, and I think Lindy has exactly what is needed to get the most out of stamkos, Hedman, Lindback, and our young guns! Malone could be dealt, alot of teams would be interested if he were to be healthy, if not we could free up about 4.5M, that would help the team to get one better defensemen, and maybe a top 6 forward.

        Tampa bay needs to free up 2 spaces up front , Connolly and JT Brown are ready to play NHL level, also Mark Barberio, recently signed Andrej Sustr, and Luke Witkowski (If we sign him) Could all play next season.

        There is also 1 move that Steve Yzerman has to make in the offseason, thats get someone that can fight! Get someone that when he fight he can hold his own, and can get the team the extra jump they need after a fight, as for Crombeen, he’s never back down from a fight, but he doesn’t exactly WIN fights, he hold on to his opponent. That doesn’t give your team anything like last night against Ottawa, he fought Matt Kassian, all it did was give Ottawa more momentum it did NO good to Tampa Bay.

      • 19to77 - Mar 24, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        Tampa’s got bigger problems than a lack of winning fighters. Their defensive depth after the first pairing is just bad. There’s no other way to describe it. Yzerman will have to upgrade the defense. \

      • mathieug79 - Mar 24, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        @19to77: I understand their defense depth has been poor, but with Brian Lee clearing waivers and out of tampa, and MA Bergeron not playing. I think Salo, Hedman, Gudas, Carle, and Aulie have done a great job, eventhough results weren’t very good, I think having Gudas play will only help our defense. Having Brian Lee and MA Bergeron gone will also help. Aulie is a toss up he’s been inconsitent, but there is flash that he may become a very good stay at home defensemen.

        You probably noticed that I never mentioned Brewer, thats because I’m hoping he gets traded at the deadline. His play this season is day and night compared to last season. Last season he was the best defensemen on our team. This season he’s been a real disapointment. He would be a great addition as a 3rd pair dmen on a Winning team. Im sure Pittsburg could use his veteran presence. Most of the Pittsburg D are young guys, Letang, Niskanen, Despres, Bortuzzo. Only Orpiks and Eaton are veterans. Brewer could be the perfect addition for the Penguins!

  3. jaybertx - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I really think they should bring Cooper in. Most of his players are already in Tampa anyway. He deserves the chance.

  4. zetaone - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Oh god Yzerman fired Boucher?! What a dumb move…

    Dear Regier, please hire him. Tampa can hire ruff.

    It’ll be like wife swap.

    • 19to77 - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Buffalo doesn’t have the defensive talent to play Boucher’s style of game. Neither did Tampa really. It only worked when Roloson was hot. Bet he’d freaking love Columbus though, they’re one of the bottom offenses in the League and their D and goaltending are still winning them one-goal games. Now that their future looks brighter, there’s a (low) chance he’d even land there.

      • zetaone - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Yeah because Regier is a moron and tries to follow the trends other teams have had success with. Except that’s a poor way to run an organization, especially doing it 2 years after it worked. He tries to go heavy into offensive defensemen after Chicago made it work a few years ago. He tries to trade away talent for ‘tough’ guys a couple years after it worked for Boston..

        These last two moves of his to trade Brennan for a 5th and send Grigorenko back to juniors really irked me something fierce..

      • 19to77 - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        Yeah. Until Regier is gone, coaching won’t matter in Buffalo. They need a real GM.

        Yzerman, however, has done a lot of things right. He’s had a few experiments work out poorly, but he’s both a new GM and a fairly daring one at that in terms of the players he’ll give a chance to. Roloson at 40 was nothing if not bold, and it got them a conference finals run (and then lost them a whole season). Point is, he’s earned time to see where he can take a young and talented roster. Regier’s been botching every deal since day one.

  5. Woody Bass - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Reblogged this on .

    • 19to77 - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Seriously? I mean, really?

      • Woody Bass - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:39 AM


  6. kegmen7 - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    I’d think they’d go with an interim coach the rest of the shortened season and then do a more thorough interview process after the season.

  7. govtminion - Mar 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Shouldn’t we consider Mike Keenan as well here? Aren’t we supposed to do that every time a coach gets fired in the NHL?

  8. barkar942 - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Mike Haviland.

  9. misterchainbluelightning - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Gerard Gallant, who he should have hired in the 1st place.

  10. uscthom78 - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    They make a trade with new york to get their next coach.

  11. mathieug79 - Mar 24, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Next Coach : LINDY RUFF!! I think we should change the whole coaching staff, Fresh start could do wonders! I think Ruff could turn this team into a better team, he worked with JP Dumont, Briere, Miller, Vanek, Not really any SUPERSTARS there. As for Boucher too many blunders on the PP, too many blunders in our own zone. Mostly because we played guys like MA Bergeron, Brian Lee, and Brewer. After the 1st 10 games this season, Brewer should have been in the press box for a couple of game. Maybe he would have came back the next game and be the “Brewer” we had last season. The guy who moved the puck up the ice any way possible, Blocked Most shots, and occasionally got some great shots on the net! Now he blocks shot, struggle to move the puck up the ice, and can’t get the puck through to the net.

    • billsin20xx - Mar 24, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      I don’t think Ruff is a great coach, but you need some help with facts. You don’t consider Briere, Miller, Vanek, Hasek, Drury superstars (I don’t mean Gretzky level players)? Ruff had some very good talent in Buffalo, most of who he stifled very good.

      • mathieug79 - Mar 24, 2013 at 7:28 PM

        The only one I would consider a superstar is Hasek, Not 1 of them was ever considered in the top 15 in the NHL, Vanek has 1 good year, and great start this season. He’s as soft as they come. Buffalo made a mistake by matching Edm’s offersheet. I would consider Stamkos a top 3, Marty a top 10. Im not saying Ruff is a great coach, but as of now, he and Cooper are the only options and I think its time to go with experience!

  12. alswingman - Mar 24, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    There’s nothing fresh about Lindy Ruff. You have to be careful about retreads. It works only some of the time.

    • boltsfan777 - Mar 24, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      Agreed, no retreads. Ruff isn’t going to excite the fan base in Tampa. His resume seems a little short as far as getting it done, with all those years behind him.

      Ruff seems like a good guy for a rebuilding team or new franchise, to get some stability.

  13. jackrabbit56 - Mar 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Oh what the heck – Barry Melrose, Part 2….

  14. billsin20xx - Mar 24, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    C’mon lets not be sentimental because Ruff is a great guy and coached a long time in Buffalo. he should have been fired a long time before he was except for an inept GM in Buffalo. Check his record, it really isn’t that good. He will field a competitive team, but not a winning playoff team.
    There was a reason he was fired in Buffalo, don’t sugar coat him as a great savior.

  15. uscthom78 - Mar 24, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Stanny B’s father.

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