I like Mike Smith. Really, I do. I think he's got great skills and can be a show-stopper in net when healthy.
That being said, not only was the public-over-the-top-vote-of-confidence by Brian Lawton last week misplaced, especially with a goaltender recuperating from Post Concussion Syndrome, but it just created a huge hole for the Lightning.
"I don't want to get into the reasons other than to say all of us, including Karri, feel he's better off stepping out for a year and play for Omsk. ... Tampa Bay wanted to sign him but we saw it otherwise."
-- Ramo's agent, Mark Gandler
For those scoring at home, that's the Bolts #2 netminder on the depth chart gone (the Raw Charge Lined Up Update has been modified to reflect this)... The guy who would ultimately spell and fill in for Smith should the guy need a break or recovery time. And if we've learned anything from last season, depth and resting players is vital to the overall stability of the Lightning roster.
And giving all-in with a netminder who has suffered two concussions previously (and "aggrevated" his last concussion, suffered in December, which could appear to be a third concussion in itself) seems like the misplaced bravado comparable to the "mandate" Lawton laid down late in the season towards Smith and the rest of the Lightning roster:
"The mandate is, if you're ready to go, you're going."
Lawton said he has no plans to pursue another goaltender through free agency. That means the job of #2 netminder has automatically shifted to the likes of Riku Helenius, Dustin Tokarski or Mike McKenna (shoudl he be re-signed). Two rookies and an AHL goaltender.
The other thing to worry about now with the Lightning is the fact they have a plethora of RFA's yet to re-sign and 2 that have already bolted to the KHL due to uncertainty about playign time. How many more will go that route with franchise instability on display today?
What I'm saying is, this is a symptom of a bigger problem... Even if Ramo specifically signed due to playing time concerns, there are other reasons now that any member of the Tampa Bay Lightning may decide to chase a chance in Europe or Russia instead of tempting fate in Tampa.