by Joe Tasca on 03/30/13 at 12:00 AM ET
While Guy Boucher was the sacrificial lamb, Ken Campbell thinks the woes of the Tampa Bay Lightning should be placed squarely on the shoulders of general manager Steve Yzerman:
Aside from getting lucky on a gamble with 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson two years ago, Yzerman was never able to solve the Lightning’s goaltending woes. Mike Smith became one of the best goaltenders in the NHL after the Lightning put him on the scrap heap and, as it turns out, Anders Lindback was not ready to take the responsibility of being a No. 1 goalie. The Lightning defense corps, meanwhile, is slow and mistake-prone, and after all his years in Detroit, you’d think Yzerman would have placed more of an emphasis on building from the blueline out.
The fact of the matter is that Yzerman placed a strong emphasis on improving his blueline in the off-season. He signed Sami Salo to a two-year, $7.5 million deal, then inked Matt Carle for six years at $33 million. With veteran Eric Brewer and young stud Victor Hedman already under contract, Tampa Bay had what appeared to be a pretty formidable top two pairings on defense. Keith Aulie and Brian Lee, both acquired by Yzerman late last season, rounded out the team's backend.
Sadly, it just hasn't worked out. But to accuse Yzerman of failing to adequately address his blueline woes is utterly ridiculous. The record shows otherwise. And while it's perfectly fair to criticize the quality of Yzerman's decisions, to say he didn't put forth a strong effort to turn things around is disingenuous.
More than anything else, the Anders Lindback signing may prove to be Yzerman's biggest miscalculation. In order to acquire Lindback from Nashville, Yzerman gave up two second round picks in 2012, a third rounder this summer, and goaltender Sebastien Caron. That's a major investment for a 24-year-old netminder who has yet to prove his worth as a full-time NHL backstop. Suffice it to say Yzerman is pining for a do-over on that deal.
With that said, hindsight is always crystal clear. Steve Yzerman rolled the dice last summer, hoping to fill the many holes on his roster, and the results have been nothing short of disastrous. It's gotten to the point where many columnists believe Yzerman has to act swiftly to rectify the situation, which is fueling speculation that the Lightning GM is on the verge of cutting loose some of his young prospects in order to land Ryan Miller.
Like coaching, managing a hockey team is a thankless job. In fact, it's more than reasonable to suggest anyone interested in holding such a position is highly masochistic. When it comes down to it, masochism is a useful, if not necessary, trait for any general manager, because while the potential (but unlikely) payoff of building a Stanley Cup winner is great, the inevitable pain that accompanies failure is much greater.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.