As one chapter in the book of the Tampa Bay Lightning came to a close yesterday, with the closure we were all waiting for from Guy Boucher, another began when the team acquired goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop, a towering youngin’ from the Ottawa Senators, came with a high price. Tampa’s possible rookie of the year, Cory Conacher, and a 4th round draft pick. The trade did not sit well with a lot of Cory’s fans. Most of the fans of the team understood, though there were plenty who felt that he was too talented to give up. Many felt that Cory was the future of the Lightning, the “little Marty” as he has been compared to Martin St. Louis on many occasions.
Steve Yzerman spoke to Tampa Bay’s 98.7 The Fan this morning. He talked about several different things, the main thing being his recent moves. It wasn’t easy for him to just give Conacher up. He felt that he was a great asset, but you have to pay a price for quality. You have to GIVE something in order to GET something. Fans have been furious that Yzerman has not made a move in goaltending. Well, they got their wish in a big way. At the cost of Conacher. You just can’t have it all! We can find another talent like Cory. He may not have the dazzling smile, adorable eyes, or amazing personality mixed in with awesome talent like Cory, but I’ll take talent over personality any day. The players are not here to be our friends. They are here to win.
The main question remains in the fate of goalie coach Franz Jean. In recent years the Lightning’s goaltending has not been consistent. Goalie in, goalie out… same story. So why did Guy Boucher lose his job, yet Jean remains? I have no idea. Perhaps there just wasn’t another goaltender consultant available. Maybe they didn’t want to take on the salary of another. We might even see a move over the summer regarding this. That would be great.
To the fans who are complaining that Tampa got a raw deal, giving up Conacher for Bishop, our shining star for an ‘unproven goalie’, I am not arguing or writing this to anger you. I am going to miss Cory personally. I do feel that he was a great asset to the team. But replaceable. Yzerman addressed an immediate need, but in a way that will buy into the organization’s future. They really didn’t need more talent in the forward department, but they were desperate in the goaltending department. No matter what, not everyone can be pleased. He has hopefully fixed the problem of right now, so the other talent that they have on the team (Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, etc…) can focus back on their jobs and not have to worry about keeping the puck out of the net themselves. Anders Lindback does have the potential. He can be groomed into being a wonderful net minder. Garon’s days are numbered. He is good, but inconsistent. When he’s hot he’s hot, but when he’s not… well, we see that side of him more than the talented side of him. That’s just how we are.
Ben Bishop made his Lightning debut tonight. The entire team looked transformed. With Brett Connolly back up, the new and improved Brett Connolly, along with the other young Syracuse spirits on the team – mixed with the veteranship of Brewer, St. Louis and Lecavalier, who returned from his ankle injury tonight – I really felt like I was watching a new team. They kept it simple. Their passes actually got to the intended players. They rushed the net. They defended the net and the puck. Turnovers were down. The Lightning completely dominated the game. Though the Carolina Hurricanes had 45 shots on goal and Tampa only had 30, the final score was 5-0.
Bishop was amazing tonight. He faced 45 shots and stopped them all. He debuted with a shut out, the team’s first shut out of the season. I just hope that all of the pressure doesn’t weigh him down. Some people are expecting him to be amazing and the Number One goal tender right off the bat. Others are watching him closely, daring him to mess up so they can lash out at Yzerman for trading him for Cory. He is under a lot of pressure right now. With his amazing start, I hope that people realize realistically that he won’t be able to play every game like this. Though it’d be amazing if he did! I don’t think that he came with a superhero cape. (That’s for Patrick Cane.)
Way to go Ben! What a way to break into your new role. Welcome to Tampa Bay. Get your suntan lotion ready.