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Ex-Bolts coach Boucher speaks about ‘shock’ firing: ‘This is difficult’

Apr 4, 2013, 10:40 AM EDT

Guy Boucher Getty Images

On Wednesday, former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher spoke publicly for the first time since being dismissed on Mar. 24.

Even though he’s had 11 days to process the decision, he’s still feeling the emotions.

“It was a shock,’’ Boucher told the Tampa Tribune. “But that’s the business and you have to deal with it.

“It’s something you have to deal with and it puts a lot of things in perspective. This is difficult. It’s a tough one, but adversity makes you grow.’’

Boucher was relieved of his duties after an eventful two-and-a-half years on the job.

His first season couldn’t have gone much better — the Bolts finished with 103 points (23 more than the previous season) and came within a game of the Stanley Cup finals.

From there, though, things went south as both injuries and goaltending issues plagued the team.

Over the last two seasons, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Victor Hedman and Mattias Ohlund have all missed significant time and the revolving door of ineffective netminders — Dwayne Roloson, Mathieu Garon and, most recently, Anders Lindback — saw Tampa Bay win just 38 games last year and 13 this year before Boucher was replaced by AHL Syracuse head coach John Cooper.

Boucher alluded to both of these issues as reasons he was probably let go, but made no bones about it — that’s part of the  business, adding he held no grudge against the man that fired him, GM Steve Yzerman.

“Steve and I had had a brief conversation that day and he said he wanted to make a change,’’ Boucher said. “We didn’t have any problems. We stuck together as a team and as a staff and made a lot happen.

“You can’t control injuries and you can’t control personnel that’s available and not available.’’

Boucher does leave Tampa with a solid resume-booster. He remains the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season winning percentage (.546) and playoff winning percentage (.611).

  1. rsl22 - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    I’m shocked, too. How do you manage to suck so bad when you have two of the top 4 scorers in the league?

    • digbysellers - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      Easy, their goaltending (which Stevie Y signed and needs to take ownership of screwing the pooch on) has been abysmal.

      • rsl22 - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Five teams ahead of them in the East have given up more goals.

        They’re in the top 10 in salary spent. They spent money on Carle, Hedman, Brewer, Salo, and Ohlund. All of them make over $3.6MM.

        If you can’t keep the puck out of your goal with that defensive corp, you’re doing something wrong.

      • rsl22 - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        Only the Penguins have scored more goals per game in the East. Something was very wrong. It can’t only be the goaltending.

      • digbysellers - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        Yeah something is wrong. It’s the goaltending. Plus those defensemen you pointed out ain’t exactly Scott Stevens back on the blue line. Who cares what they paid for who, none of them are getting it done.

  2. yvrmike - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    So tell me this – If Bishop (3rd back up in Ottawa) does not work out for Yzerman does he get fired?
    Reality is he thought that he could turn Anders Lindback, Mathieu Garon and, to a lesser extent, Cedrick Desjardins all back ups into # 1s and he failed.

    • kicksave1980 - Apr 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      It’s very possible that Ben Bishop won’t be the backup. Open the competition between him and Lindback. I like Lindback, but it was stupid to push a guy with so little experience into a starter’s role and expect things to change. Bishop did a fine job holding it down with Ottawa in Anderson’s absence.

  3. pastabelly - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    I suppose I need to understand why Steven Stamkos is a -7 for the year. It would probably be worse if he weren’t going up against the other team’s top checking line every night. It’s not as if he’s out there killing penalties either. That stat is glaring as only a part time defenseman, Brian Lee has a worse +/- on the team.

    • sasquatch678 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      PP goals don’t affect +/-.

  4. ironmike778 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Good coach that got a raw deal. He’ll be back.

  5. sasquatch678 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    As a Preds fan, I’d like to see Trotz fired and Boucher hired. I love Trotz, and he’s been with the franchise since day one, but it’s time for a change. Boucher’s style would fit right in with Nashville, plus he wouldn’t have to worry about goaltending anymore.

  6. lsxphotog - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Goalies are so easy to blame and point the finger. True hockey fans that know the game will note poor defensive structuring and breakdowns that cause 5 players deep in “the house” crowding the slot – leaving the points open. This does several things: For one, it prevents clean shots from getting through to the goaltender and can generate a lot of weird deflections. Secondly, you leave the points ready to rip a shot and that also makes it very hard to break out of the zone.

    That being said, Garon and Lindback have let a sad amount of simple shots right past them. If you’re an NHL goaltender and you can see the puck…YOU SHOULD be able to stop it.

    • lsxphotog - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      To add, I thought Boucher was a terrible coach once it was made clear he couldn’t adapt at all. You can place blame on injuries, but that’s weak. The guys stepping in are playing very well and had poor direction IMO. The departure of Boucher has provided the team with a fresh wind as they’ve strung together some solid games.

      • hockeyfan27 - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:46 PM

        I think one of the knocks on Boucher is that he is a very tactical coach and he believed his system would work. I like his system, a lot. Having said that, to say that he couldn’t adapt is ridiculous. Adapt to what? Should he adapt to the fact that his players couldn’t execute coverage. Should he dumb it down for Marty St. Louis in the Ottawa game which lead to Boucher being fired. Marty was responsible for two goals by himself. Marty was in a perfect spot as the third man back covering a man three feet to his left when all of a sudden he leaves him and drifts toward the puck carrier. Guess who gets the puck and scores? Yes, Marty’s man. The Lightning are playing the Bruins, going toe to toe with one of the best teams in hockey. They are on a PK when Eric Brewer makes a pass to Stamkos who goes streaking up the right wing with Marty on his left. Guess who jumps in the play? Brewer. How smart is that? You are on a PK, Stammer shoots wide and results in an easy 2 on 1 the other way which results in a Bruins goal. We all know you can’t shoot wide on that and Brewer should be smart enough to know he has to think D first. Lightning are playing against Winnipeg when with 4 minutes left in the 3rd. period Marty gets beat coming off the halfboards by Ladd and he scores the game winning goal. I instruct my peewee players don’t get beat off the boards. I am not making this up. This was either addressed in the post game presser by the coach or admitted by the player. I can give you countless situations like those that lead to the Lightning losing games. Without those mistakes I can also tell you the Lightning lead the SE with Boucher behind the bench and this conversation never happens. So maybe Boucher should have adapted and realized that his players have a low hockey IQ and couldn’t execute PeeWee concepts at an NHL level or maybe John Tortarella is right when he said by firing the coach you let the players off the hook. Grow up players. Yzerman should have had the balls to say, “This is your coach, he is not going anywhere. At some point you need to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you may have done to get us to this point. Act like professionals and come to the rink ready to play. If not I will find others that will.”

      • lsxphotog - Apr 6, 2013 at 12:59 AM

        Sounds like somebody watches NHL on the Fly too much and misses Boucher. Isolation of bad plays is one thing. Watching the product on the ice and understanding how a system really plays out is another. I would love to play against his system, because you know it…….if know it, then you can find its flaws. When you find its flaws, you can eventually beat it. Once you’ve beaten it, you can play around it. It’s not a matter of you liking it, it’s about the real world application of it and the consequences of it’s flaws. Then we have the habitual alterations of lines, which ruins chemistry building. Then we have his incessant desire to ride Lindback rather than ease him in. The we have his piss poor line matching. Trust me, there was a lot of good things he did as well as bad, and there were players making mistakes. The true story is in how it played out game-to-game. Not on a dumb play that cost them an isolated goal one night here and there. You should explore the rest of the goals and imagine how each could have unfolded. In this you’ll find unnatural player position that’s very much a “tail between its legs” style of overly cautious and under aggressive play combined with poor player placement under both even strength and short handed. So you’re welcome to defend a coach entirely on player mistakes, or you can look around it and actually address the coaching aspects that are being carried out.

        Also of note, frustration leads to mistakes. Players making mistakes are often frustrated. Wonder if any of those guys weren’t frustrated from any combination of the coaching issues I listed?

  7. hockeyfan27 - Apr 6, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    I can certainly understand your point. Do I think they could have won with this system I do. Do I think they implemented it as Guy intended? No. Do I think they wanted to play this system? No I don’t. That in and of itself is a problem. I think Stamkos is one of the best pure shooters we have seen in a long time and hard for many to see him playing in a conservative system. NJ played a very conservative system for years and won with it. Every system has flaws but the positive aspects of that system hopefully outweigh the flaws. The Oilers of the 80’s had flaws but won games 6-5. I do think that the constant line combination changes did nothing to build chemistry. Stamkos and St. Louis have showed great chemistry and I wouldn’t have changed that as a coach. I am trying to understand your comments on “unnatural player position”, “poor player placement on even strength and PK” and “tail between legs style”. I am asking this sincerely and may learn something hearing it from your perspective.

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