Recently our favorite THN columnist, Ken Campbell, penned another winner about our Tampa Bay Lightning. This one entitled “Campbell: Why the Lightning and Canadiens should trade coaches.” Yes, you read that right. Now I am not going to spend much time on the main subject of this recent bit of delusional thinking, because I am hoping at best, it is more sarcasm than honest feelings. However there was one reason he gave for why this bench boss deal should happen and that is what I am focusing on tonight: “After one wildly successful season, Boucher appears to have lost the Lightning, a team that is far too offensively talented and front-loaded to play the type of defense-first game he wants it to play.” Once again I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Campbell.
First, yes last season was “wildly successful,” but that was a surprise to everyone from the youngest fan all the way to team owner Jeff Vinik. With the plan that GM Steve Yzerman laid out, the goal was long term success, not one year of fun and done. The plan was to build depth around the core of already extremely talented Lightning skaters. And where does that start? It starts in the American League in Norfolk, VA and the ECHL in Estero, FL. And after the numerous injuries this team has suffered since the beginning of the current campaign, I have seen that the plan is working pretty well. Various roster spots have been filled with numerous call ups from the American League. We’ve seen the return of Dana Tyrell (who is just an amazing hard-worker on the ice), to newer faces like P.C. Labrie and Trevor Smith, who each just recently notched their first NHL point during the last game against Phoenix. Of the two most recent, P.C. Labrie has really impressed with me with his attitude, he is the new guy in the big show but he does not back down when it comes to protecting the team and going after pucks.
As for “Boucher appears to have lost the Lightning,” I do not believe that statement has any merit behind it what so ever. If a team were lost to a coach, I do not believe we would be seeing the character, drive, tenacity, strength, etc that this team has had in battling back over and over again. If it was a loss of confidence in the coach, chances are they wouldn’t be playing as hard to accomplish such feats. But, I’ll leave it to the team to continue my commentary on this position about Coach Guy Boucher:
(Links to articles are embedded in the position/title, stats to the name)
D Matt Gilroy – “He’s unlike any other coach I have ever played for. I’ve had coaches who have beat us into the ground when things aren’t going well, but all he preaches is that we all stay together, stick to the structure and if we do that, good things will happen.”
RW Brett Connolly – “He let me off the hook a little bit at the start of the year. But I found out when I got back that’s not going to be the case anymore. It’s a teaching tool. You’ve got to watch what you’re doing on the ice.”
GM Steve Yzerman – “The coach’s message is the farthest thing from the problem here. There’s no point in anybody discussing the coach. We’ve got a great coach. He’s the same coach as last year. His message is work hard, be structured.”
Lastly, as to the team being “far too offensively talented and front-loaded to play the type of defense-first game he wants it to play,” well it was the two-way play of our forwards that added to the wild success of last year’s playoff run. And it has been the two-way play of our offense, helping out our mired defense from time to time to save games. Yet the offense is scoring, and we are starting to see it come from skaters other than the Big Three of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Plus, if this “defense-first game” was truly handcuffing our offense, I would not think Stamkos would be the current NHL leader in goals scored with 32.
All in all, this is just another interesting rant by Mr. Campbell with no time spent doing research on what the players themselves think. Now if you want to know my thoughts on the whole reason for his article, that being trading coaches, hit me up on Twitter.
As always be the THUNDER and be RELENTLESS fans!
Take care and take it easy,
- Jim Courteau