In a shortened season that has seen many firings, add Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher to the list.
“Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise.”
The Lightning currently sit 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 13-17-1 record. In Boucher’s tenure, he had a 97-78-20 record while making the playoffs only once, losing in the Conference Finals in his first season as Head Coach.
Rumors are beginning to circulate as Buffalo Sabres ex-Head Coach Lindy Ruff may be a potential replacement. Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman hired Ruff as an Assistant Coach for Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic Team. For now, Assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching responsibilities.
The Lightning have the eight highest payroll this season with the top-end talent such as Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Victor Hedman. While it is easy to see such players on the roster and question why a coach cannot win, the reason lies in the General Manager.
Steve Yzerman joined the club in May of 2010, and since, has done nothing to improve the goaltending situation. The Lightning currently rank 24th in goals against average with 3.03. The woes of not having a number one goalie is evident, as both Yzerman’s acquisitions in Mathieu Garon and Anders Lindback have proved disastrous. Lindback, who is currently injured, is the better of the two with a .903 save percentage and a 2.88 goals against average. Not much worse, and definitely not good, Garon has a .904 save percentage and an even 3.00 goals against average.
While it is always easy to blame a Head Coach for the team’s lack of winning, Boucher was dealt some bad hands and made the best of it. General Manager Steve Yzerman should have been on the hot seat, but we know this is how it goes in the NHL with the Head Coach taking the blame. With no more excuses if the next Head Coach does poorly, Yzerman may want to start shopping for a number one goalie before that can happen, and courting Roberto Luongo may be the best course of action currently.