Jan 3, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron (47) holds on to the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Lightning 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

In Yzerman We Trust? (Part 2)

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same can be said in hockey.

Nov 30, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman before the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

For every good decision that is made by a team’s management, there is usually a questionable one that can be brought to light.

While there may not have been the same quantity of questionable decisions as there were positive ones, some of them are real whoppers.

In Part 2, we will take a look at some of those whoppers.

The Lightning Trade Steve Downie to the Colorado Avalanche

Yes, I know that this is really old news. This went down at the end of last season. However, this is the first time that I ever questioned Yzerman’s decision making skills.

On November 7, 2008 Downie was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with defenseman Steve Eminger, for defenseman Matt Carle. Originally assigned to the Norfolk Admirals, Downie was recalled to the Lightning lineup on November 28, 2008 as the Lightning defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-2.

While in a Lightning uniform, Downie played a total of 214 games (regular and post-season) scoring 47 goals and earned 65 assists for a total of 112 points.

During the 2011-12 season, Downie set a Lightning franchise record for two quickest goals by an individual, by scoring 2 goals in just 11 seconds against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 12th, 2012.

Despite being a fan favorite, and establishing himself as a solid offensive player, seemingly out of nowhere, Downie was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Rubbing salt into the deep wounds of the fans, Quincey was almost immediately to the Detroit Red Wings, Yzerman’s former team, for a 2012 first-round draft pick and minor league player Sebastian Piche.

While this chain of trades did eventually allow for the acquisition of goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, the Lightning have yet to see any direct return on this investment. This is by no means a knock to Vasilevski, who has displayed a stellar performance since his acquisition, but the Lightning have not seen a direct impact from this movement.

At the end of the day, were the ends worth the means in this situation? To this day, fans are still talking about this trade, and still holding out for answers as to why the Lightning would trade away a valuable player when the team was trying so desperately to push for a post season run.

The Lightning Agree to Terms with B.J. Crombeen on a Two-Year Contract Extension

Many Lightning fans were hoping that this was an April fool’s joke; however, a joke it was not. On April 1st, Yzerman announced that the Lightning have offered B.J. Crombeen a two-year contract extension.

January 25, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Ottawa Senators right wing Chris Neil (25) and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen (19) fight during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the official press release by the Lightning Steve Yzerman had this to say:

We are pleased to have B.J. with the Lightning organization for another two years,” Yzerman said. “He has proven to be a hard-nosed right winger and reliable penalty killer, as well as a very popular teammate of outstanding character.”

While he is very popular off of the ice. Indeed, he is a man of outstanding character. However, it is his performance on the ice that leads me to question Yzerman’s decision.

Yzerman refers to Crombeen as a “hard-nosed right winger.” Maybe this is because he spends so much time getting punched in it.

Crombeen is very quick to drop the gloves, and unlike his teammates Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Radko Gudas, and Keith Aulie, is not really good at picking and choosing his battles. Crombeen has 86 minutes in penalties, 5th in the NHL in Penalty Minutes, most of them for fighting.

This would not necessarily be a bad thing if the penalty was in defense of a goal, or if he could even fight for that matter. However, night after night, Crombeen continues to drop the gloves, and continues to get railed in the face. In most fans’ opinions, Crombeen could stand to take some serious fighting lessons from the likes of Aulie and Labrie.

In the 30 games the 6’2, 209 pound RW has suited up for this season, he has scored 1 goal (458th in the NHL) and 6 assists for a total of 7 points.

Don’t get me wrong, Crombeen is a super nice guy, but his dismal numbers and complete ineptitude when it comes to fighting leave much to be desired. I still don’t quite understand why we would trade away a performer like Steve Downie, yet we extend the contract of B.J. Crombeen.

I sincerely hope that Crombeen proves me wrong and goes on to have a stellar season. I am just not 100% sure that this is going to come into fruition.

Now, depending on which side of the fence you sit on this matter will determine how you view this next decision.

Tampa Bay Lightning Part Ways with Head Coach Guy Boucher

I still have not quite fully come to terms with this one. I am trying with all my being to see things from both sides of the ice, but the more and more I think about this, the more difficult it becomes to put this into perspective.

Dec 21, 2011; San Jose, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher walks across the ice to the locker room after the game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. San Jose defeated Tampa Bay 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

In his first year as Head Coach of the Lightning, he took the Bolts all the way to the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals where they would ultimately lose by only one goal to the Boston Bruins. I have very strong opinions on that game, but that is another story for another day.

When Boucher was brought on in the 2010-11 season, Yzerman said that he believed that the Lightning was going to need a 3 year period in order to build the team into a real contender. This would play out during the four years that Boucher had on his contract.

However, Boucher would not be given the three years that Yzerman claimed that it would take to rebuild the team. In fact, he would only be given approximately 2.5 seasons.

Being completely honest, I wouldn’t even say that he has given 2.5 seasons. I wouldn’t consider this half season that he was handed this year to be a fair assessment of his abilities. We started the season over 3 months late. While some players like Victor Hedman, Nate Thompson, and Anders Lindback played overseas (or back in his hometown in the case of Nate Thompson), a good majority of the players did not get any ice time during the lockout. Then, the Lightning, as well as every other team in the NHL, was all but robbed of their training camp. With so many new faces in the lineup this year, that time could have been critical to the Bolts’ play this season.

When you start your season in January, as we were forced to do by the sideshow we came to know as the lockout, you essentially start the season already in playoff mode. This is a difficult feat for a team with so many new faces.

Unfortunately for Boucher, 32 games into a lockout-shortened 48 game season, the Lightning would be sitting at 13-18-1 and 14th place out of 15 in the Eastern Conference.

After dropping two in a row on the road, the last of which was a 5-3 loss against the Ottawa Senators, Boucher was handed his walking papers.

When the Lightning couldn’t seem to get the offense and the defense to show up at the same time, let alone the rather large holes that we had in our defense, Boucher was put into a rather precarious position. Unfortunately, when you have players that seemingly have no interest in producing, you can be the greatest NHL coach ever known to man, and you still won’t be able to put together a win.

This is where I think the real problem lies. When you have such an obvious issue with your defense, it is the General Manager’s responsibility to get rid of the dead weight, and bring in people who not only want to play, but actually produce. While Yzerman has done just that as of late, it was not until after Boucher had been dismissed that everything started to come into play.

In the eyes of many fans, Boucher’s dismissal is a scapegoat to hide the fact that Yzerman has not made the necessary moves in order to get the team to where they need to be.

Personally, I don’t agree with every decision that Boucher made. In fact, there are instances that I would have been MUCH harder on the players than he was, but I do not agree that this was enough for him to be relieved of his duties.

I do want to be clear, though. My feelings on Boucher’s dismissal are in no way, shape, or form a knock on current Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper. I think that Cooper is an amazing coach. He led the Norfolk Admirals all the way to the Calder Cup during the 2011-12 season. This season, the Syracuse Crunch is current gearing up for another run at the post season.

Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Carolina Hurricanes

I think this may very well be the move that has pushed some Lightning fans over the edge when it comes to Steve Yzerman’s decision making skills.

Unfortunately, Bergeron’s departure comes as no surprise. He has spent a lot of time as a healthy scratch this season. In the 12 games he did play for the Lightning this season, he scored 1 goal and 4 assists for a total of 5 points, and 4 penalty minutes.

While this may not be a fair assessment of his skills based on the sheer lack of play he has received this season, there had to be a reason for his lack of play. While we may never know what led former Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher to have Bergeron spend so much time on the bench, it certainly did him no favors when it came to the Trade Deadline.

Now, this is where things get interesting.

Bergie was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for right wing Adam Hall and a 7th round draft pick in 2013.

Yes, you heard me correctly. He was traded in exchange for Adam Hall. This is the same player that was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes on March 13th.

This decision makes absolutely no sense to me. There has to be a reason that Hall was placed on waivers to begin with.

In the 26 games that he has played with the Lightning this season, he has 0 goals and 4 assists for a total of 4 points. This comes along with 23 penalty minutes.

While he is a quality guy off the ice, his numbers leave a lot to be desired. I just can’t understand why we would trade one player who has been underperforming this season for another one who has been on the exact same path.

I will concede that there is a possibility, albeit not a big one, but a possibility that we will see a return on the draft pick; however, it could be years before we see the actual return on this.

My Two Cents:

Throughout everything, I have tried to keep a positive attitude about everything. I am not going to lie to you; it has been a true test of my resolve to continue to look on the bright side of things in regards to some of the decisions Yzerman has made.

However, after these last few weeks, I think even the most solid of resolves would be put to the test. I honestly see my faith slowly dwindling away.

I just can’t wrap my head around some of this. I think more specifically the Bergeron trade. Why would you put Hall on waivers, have him be picked up by Carolina, only to trade someone else to them for the exact same player that you just traded away? Then, to top it all off, they almost immediately put Hall on waivers with the intention of reassigning him to Syracuse. Color me confused, but this seems a little redundant to me.

For the first time in quite some time, I just can’t tell you that I have full faith in him. I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but his decision making as of late has me a little worried about his judgment.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Yzerman really does have a plan for the team, and that we just haven’t given him enough time for his plan to come into fruition.

However, like I said in the beginning, when it comes to your team, you have to take the bad as well as the good. No matter my feelings on the matter, I will always support my team; no matter what.

 

How do you feel about the decisions that Yzerman has been making in the name of the Lightning so far? Do you think he really knows what is best for the team, or do you think he needs to head to the penalty box? Sound off in the comments below and let your voice be heard.

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Tags: Steve Yzerman Tampa Bay Lightning

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