by PuckStopsHere on 03/26/13 at 12:50 AM ET
Yesterday the Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Guy Boucher. Today they announced that their new coach will be Jon Cooper. One thing we learned is Steve Yzerman likes to hire "up and coming" coaches who have no NHL experience. When Boucher was hired he had been a successful QMJHL coach. He spent a year coaching in the AHL and won the AHL Coach of the Year award. This made him the most wanted coach with no NHL experience. The Columbus Blue Jackets wanted him and offered them their coaching position but Boucher declined and took the Tampa job.
Tampa Bay was not without offensive talent. They had Martin St Louis, Vincent LeCavalier and a young Steve Stamkos. They were coming off of a terrible ownership run by Oren Koules and Len Barrie and with a new owner in Jeff Vinik there was nowhere to go but upwards.
At first Boucher appeared to be a solid coach. When Tampa acquired goaltending in Dwayne Roloson they made it as far as the semi-finals in the playoffs. The problem was goaltending didn't last. The aging Roloson failed to follow up his earlier performance and was one of the worst goalies in the NHL last season before retiring. In an effort to find a new goalie, Tampa Bay chose Anders Lindback as a cheap available goalie with some potential. He has been average at best and hasn't stolen any games for Tampa.
The other goalie in a similar position who was on the market last summer was Sergei Bobrovsky who was traded to Columbus and Tampa Bay passed up on him. Bobrovsky has been one of the best goalies in the league this year. This isn't the only successful goalie that Tampa passed upon. Mike Smith was in the Tampa Bay system when Guy Boucher first coached the team and Tampa let him leave as a free agent to Phoenix.
In short Guy Boucher was fired because Tampa Bay has failed to find a top level NHL goalie. They can score. In fact they have the third highest goals per game this season. They are also one of the worst teams in terms of goals against.
Jon Cooper is the reigning AHL Coach of the Year. He has been coaching in the AHL since 2010. He is probably the most wanted coach at the NHL level with no experience. He is in the same place Guy Boucher was when he was hired.
The problem in Tampa is a lack of goaltending. That problem will not be solved with a new coach. Despite that, Tampa should improve under Cooper. They may have the second fewest points in the East Conference but they also have more goals scored than against. That record indicates that they have been unlucky to have as poor a record as they have. Likely that luck will not last and they will regress to the mean. That will improve their record.
Tampa Bay replaced one coach with another coach with a similar resume. This was done to attempt to solve some problems that do not include coaching. These problems will likely somewhat solve themselves although their main problem a lack of goaltending will not solve itself. Tampa Bay has essentially taken a step sideways. They are no better with a new coach. They are likely not worse either. The alarming thing is that Steve Yzerman is showing a tendency to make irrational moves that do not address his problems. That does not bode well for the team's future.
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