Guy Boucher’s number is up in Tampa Bay.
General Manager Steve Yzerman announced this morning that they were relieving Boucher of his coaching duties, ending his run as the team’s head coach after two seasons and 31 games this year.
The Lightning got out to a 13-17-1 record this season and sit in fourth place in the Southeast Division but just three points ahead of Florida for last in the Eastern Conference. Yzerman’s comment on Boucher’s departure shows that things just didn’t go their way this year.
“Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done,” said Yzerman upon making the announcement. “But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise.”
The Lightning play in Winnipeg tonight and assistant coaches Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching duties for that game.
As for who will ultimately take over for Boucher as the new bench boss, former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff will jump to the front of the discussion, but a more likely choice to take over would be the franchise’s current AHL head coach in Syracuse, Jon Cooper.
Longtime Montreal Gazette scribe Red Fisher has weighed in on the Canadiens coaching search, and targeted a pair of potential candidates to be behind the bench next season.
From The Gazette:
Bilingualism is a priority, and since I’m told two interviews were held in Florida, I’m guessing that Tampa Bay assistants Daniel Lacroix and Martin Raymond are in the mix.
Put it this way: I’m betting both already have been interviewed among the five candidates GM Marc Bergevin has in mind. What they have going for them is that both were assistants to Guy Boucher with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs and followed him when he was named Lightning head coach two seasons ago.
Lacroix is the more experienced of the two, having served three years as an assistant on Long Island (under Ted Nolan and Scott Gordon).
Raymond (pictured, w/Boucher) spent one year as an assistant in Hamilton before making the jump to Tampa.
Fisher suggests that both could be hired by Bergevin, which makes sense. What Lacroix and Raymond have going for them is 1) both are from Montreal, 2) both speak French and 3) chemistry — they’ve worked behind the same bench for three years and developed a strong working relationship.
This is important, especially given comments from former Habs defenseman Jaro Spacek that depicted the Habs as a dysfunctional organization lacking communication, leadership and continuity.