Lightning hire two assistant coaches, won't fight their way to victory

stevedownieTBL.jpgThis is probably long since forgotten, but when it was rumored that Guy Boucher would become the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning (and he did indeed become the coach) it was said that he would be bringing two of his assistants from his former job with Hamilton in the AHL. Fast forward to today’s news out of Tampa Bay and it turns out that initial speculation was true. Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times gives up the info.

The Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday named Daniel Lacroix and Martin Raymond assistant coaches. Both were assistants to coach Guy Boucher last season at AHL Hamilton. A third assistant is expected to be named in the next day or two.

The moves make clear that associate coach Rick Wilson will not be back. He already has been rumored a candidate for an assistant job with the Wild. Unclear is the status of roving goaltenders coach Cap Raeder.

Not only did Steve Yzerman get his man in Guy Boucher, but now Boucher gets to bring his staff from Hamilton with him. That should help in figuring out coaching roles and game plans for what could prove to be a very exciting and non-pugilistic brand of hockey.

And an argument can be made the team hasn’t really had an enforcer-type since Andre Roy. But is that really an issue? We know captain Vinny Lecavalier can take care of himself as can Ryan Malone and Steve Downie, though you don’t really want your top-six guys fighting. And there is still plenty of time to fill out the roster if general manager Steve Yzerman wants to go that way. 

But conversations with Yzerman and coach Guy Boucher didn’t make it sound as if adding an enforcer was a burning desire.

“We’d like to have some toughness, but I believe a lot more in team toughness,” Boucher said. “If we have the puck, more often than the other team, we’ll nee d a lot less toughness. The other team will be running after us instead of us running after them.”

Sound familiar at all? It should because that smacks of puck-possession style hockey and avoidance of on-ice brawling of any kind. That sure sounds like Red Wings kind of hockey to me. The Red Wings have been one of the least penalized teams for fighting in recent years but you’d be hard-pressed to call them a weak team. Team toughness, indeed.

Now if Boucher can get Steve Downie to calm down to the point where he again becomes a useful tough guy for the Lightning, they’ll really be cooking. If he reverts back into being a cheap-shot delivering side show, perhaps the Lightning will have an enforcer in their midst whether they want him or not.

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    Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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    The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

    Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

    While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

    Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

    Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

    Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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    Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

    He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

    Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

    He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

    “You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

    There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

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    Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

    Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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    Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

    A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

    That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

    Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

    “I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

    Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

    Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

    “The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

    “The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

    Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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    BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

    Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

    USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

    Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.