It’s actually not that unusual to see the Tampa Bay Lightning go through big changes in a summer. It seems like that’s been happening ever since they decided to keep their Cup winning trio of forwards (Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier) rather than parting with one of them to retain Nikolai Khabibulin.
The only difference is that now it seems like they actually are making wise moves, rather than haphazard ones.
The latest change involves the team adding a new goalie coach named Frantz Jean. Damian Cristodero has the news.
The Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday hired Frantz Jean as a goaltending consultant. Team spokesman Bill Wickett said not calling Jean a coach is simply a “contractual formality.” Jean, 39, the long-time goaltending coach for Moncton of the Quebec junior league will “work with all the goaltenders in the organization,” according to the announcement. Jean takes over for the fired Cap Raeder.
While the team still employs big goalie Mike Smith (the crowned jewel of the Brad Richards to Dallas trade), the other part of their 1a/1b rotation changes as Dan Ellis steps in for departed netminder Antero Niittymaki. Here is more about Jean from the Lightning.
Jean has been involved in hockey for more than 25 years as both a player and coach. He has made a name for himself most recently with Moncton, where he has worked for the previous 12 years. During Jean’s time with the Wildcats, the team has allowed the least number of goals in the league on four occasions (1999-00, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10). Jean’s goaltenders have been named defensive player of the year or goaltender of the year three times (Lajeunesse in 1999-00, Crawford in 2003-04, Riopel in 2008-09). Nicola Riopel was also named league most valuable player in 2008-09. Jean has had his goaltenders named to the first or second all-star teams on five occasions and six of his protégés have either been drafted or signed as a free agent in the NHL.
Jean began coaching at the age of 14 and has went on to coach under the supervision of some of the best hockey has to offer, including Vladislav Tretiak, Francois Allaire and Phil Myre. He also operated a goalie school with former Canadiens goaltending coach and ex-NHLer Roland Melanson.
In the summers of 2009 and 2010, Jean was selected as the goaltending consultant for the Hockey Canada Summer National Under-18 team that won the Gold Medals at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Since 2002, he has done several goaltending seminars for the Atlantic Center of Excellence and for Hockey Canada’s Advance Level 2 Coaching Program. Jean is also a member of Hockey Canada’s National Goaltending Consultants Team.
Now, the question is: does he know how to use Twitter? I hear one of his goalies might need a little “coaching” in how to conduct himself on social media networks …
The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.
The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.
“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”
McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.
But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.
That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.
“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.
Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight
Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.
Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”
The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.
Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.
But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.
“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.
“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”