Steve Yzerman’s first task as the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning was to bring in a coach that he felt could guide the team through another rebuilding season, and stick it out for the long haul. Instead of going through the retread stack of NHL coaches which is the norm for most NHL teams, Yzerman went with youth.
He hired Guy Boucher from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the AHL where in his first season, he won the Memorial Cup. Boucher will become the youngest coach in the NHL at 38 years old.
From someone who has always been frustrated by the NHL’s lack of looking outside the retread ranks of coaches, this is a move that I like. While I don’t know much about Boucher, he seems to come highly regard in the NHL community and will bring a youthful exuberance to the team.
“For me, it really started a couple years ago. I was the manager for Canada at the (2008) World Championships in Halifax and Quebec City. Luc Robitaille from the Los Angeles Kings helped me as part of that management team,” he said. “In our discussions at that time, for whatever reasons, Guy’s name came up and it was a name that stuck with me for a while. We were talking about coaches and philosophies and whatnot, and then I had a chance to meet Guy at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa (in 2009) and he was part of the gold-medal winning team there. So he’s always been on my radar as an up-and-coming person…When given the job in Tampa Bay, obviously my first thought was, ‘Who’s going to coach the team?’ I started to think about particular names, current names, people that are in the NHL at all different levels and Guy was one of the first that came up to me as a young guy to look at outside the NHL and that different group of guys.”
“Obviously, when you talk about systems it’s a number of things that come into play,” said Boucher, already wearing a Lightning pin on his jacket lapel throughout the news conference. “For me, I’m not coaching systems, I’m coaching individuals and managing people and that all comes first on my list before either managing the group or systems. So, if I’ve got 24 players on my team, I need 24 ways to coach — and that’s the way I approach the game…My systems change every year. I adapt myself to the kind of players I have. And so right now, looking at the roster we’ve got, and possibilities and therefore, all summer I’m going to prepare for the type of players we’ve got. When you look at the players we’ve got, we’ve got St. Louis and Lecavalier and Stamkos — they’re offensive players and that certainly goes along with my philosophy of fast-paced hockey, very aggressively offensively and defensively. They’ll fit right in to what I like to do. Like I said, I think it starts with what I’ve got in the room and I adapt to what we’ve got rather than try to get those guys to adapt to me and everything I want to do.”
He sounds intelligent and full of some fresh ideas, and I’m excited for the Lightning and their fans by this hire.