*Versus becomes NBC Sports Net on January 2nd, 2012. Yes, they will still employ Mike Millbury and Keith Jones. No, they will still not be worth listening to.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is usually marked by online sales, thus nicknamed "Cyber Monday"... But it would seem the sports world is more interested in creating a stir (without retail sales figures being affected) with some of the news that has broken this morning.
First off, let me go off topic: I know some of you are huge college football fans (yeah, you, the guy groaning knowing I am going to mention this. Ohio State University has hired former University of Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer to try to resurrect the Buckeye program. Head on over to SBNation.com for coverage, but also give attention to JC De La Torre's take on things over at SB Nation Tampa Bay.
Now let's go on-topic with events that have transpired this morning that will have an effect on the Tampa Bay Lightning during the remainder of the season: Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau has been fired by the Capitals. The team has been reeling after a hot start. They're 3-6-1 in their past 10 games. The Caps have enough talent that they should be cruising... But evidence says Bruce lost his players, and that's part of why he lost his job. Head over to Japers Rink for more coverage.
Meanwhile, Paul Maurice could not get another stay-of-execution from Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford. Maurice has had a habit of being able to turn around the Hurricanes after poor starts. Not this time around. Maurice has been relieved of his coaching duties in Raleigh and will be replaced by Milwaukee Admirals head coach Kirk Mueller effective immediately. The Canes record over the past 10 games mirrors that of Washington: 3-6-1. They are currently cellar-dwellers in the Southeast Division with 20 points total in 25 games. Canes Country will have more on this for you.
With Boudreau and Maurice gone, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher becomes the most tenured coach in the Southeast Division... In his second season on the job.
We've got more after the jump, including something about a contest in the sport of hockey scheduled for tonight between Tampa Bay and the team from Minnesota.
Other breaking news this morning came directly from the Tampa Bay camp, and this is a positive move for the club: Dana Tyrell (just promoted from AHL Norfolk) has been signed to a 2-year, one-way contract extension. This was the last year of Tyrell's entry-level contract.
So Tyrell is back in the fold - doubly if you count his promotion last week, the Bolts are on a two-game winning streak, and now they play the Northwest Division leading Minnesota Wild. How much of a road bump this will be is anyone's guess. The Wild played last night, falling to the Calgary Flames 5-2. Tonight's game amounts to their fourth in six nights. They've lost the past 2 games (an Albertan Sweep as those losses came by way of the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers).
That loss came on the emotionally charged Derek Boogaard memorial night at Xcel Energy Center. Odds are there is enough gas in the tank for the Wild to make a game out of tonight's contest.
Bu the Lightning need to do what they did against Florida: Take advantage of a team that's drained. The Panthers, on Friday and Saturday, were playing in their 7th and 8th games in 13/14 days. And it showed. The Wild aren't on the same kind of torrid schedule right now, so this should be more of a battle.
Goalie Niklas Backstrom started last night for the Wild, but was run out o net by the Flames. Josh Harding played some 53 minutes of relief for the WIld, making 25 saves on 27 shots. Does that mean Backstrom starts again? Or will the Wild go with Harding and hope he can hold up?
No word on the Lightning's starter in net tonight: Do you go with Mathieu Garon, again? Or do you let the now-rested Dwayne Roloson get his first start since the debacle against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Tuesday?