Question of the Week: We've gotta sue somebody

Somebody needs to be held responsible for the garbage season the Tampa Bay Lightning just put their fans through. And what better way than with a lawsuit?

There are many stereotypes about Canadians. We're all hyper-polite woodsmen. We each get a new moose each spring from Moose Factory, Ontario, which we ride to sawmills where we spend the day building robotic space arms. There is the stereotype that we live on beer and donuts. There is the stereotype that we are in fact, fictional. But speaking as a "Canadian," even I am staggered by the willingness our American neighbors have to embrace their own stereotypes: that of being psychotically litigious lawsuit-monkeys.

Case in point: you may have heard about the NBA fan who recently filed a lawsuit against Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, claiming the player's injury absence has caused emotional distress, which in turn has led to weight gain and obesity.

I know that many fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning may well have suffered emotional distress while watching the Bolts fall apart this season, and damnit, someone has to pay. (Although to be fair the real reason for my weight gain probably has something to do with my staggering consumption of beer and donuts. But even that might be stress-related. Stress caused by watching bad hockey.)

My question then, is this: if you were to sue anyone associated with the Lightning for this garbage season, who would it be? Come on, we've gotta sue somebody. After all, it's the American way to hold people responsible for, you know... whatever.

From Clark Brooks, Raw Charge contributor:

This actually seems unfair because I liked the way he played this year, but I'm afraid I have to sue Mr. Vincent Lecavalier. Think of it as a class action suit against all the players, and since he's the captain, well...

The point of my suit is that the players of the Tampa Bay Lightning, under the leadership of Mr. Lecavalier, were grossly negligent in the performance of their duties, specifically in the area of exerting sufficient effort necessary to compete in the NHL on a consistent basis.

Whether we're talking about a highly-coveted, innovative, dynamic young coach or the coveted, innovative, dynamic young coach we replaced him with, it's not his job to motivate the players to simply play the game. At least not on a nightly basis. Lighting the occassional fire when necessary is one thing, but that's not what happened here. Players know that on the day of a game they have to get dressed, go to the arena, play a spirited game of hallway soccer, change into their uniforms, warm up and listen to a national anthem or two. What follows next (hint: it's always a hockey game against an NHL opponent) should not be a surprise. If you believe that professionals should be held accountable for their behavior at all, there is never a valid reason to not be ready to play a game. Yet, how many times did we witness slow starts that necessitated furious third period comebacks? These comebacks were presented to fans as an indication of high "character", when in fact they were emblamatic of a failure to prepare, which is actually a lack of high character. Mr. Lecavalier could have and/or should have kicked some guys in the ass. If he did and they still didn't respond, perhaps he can seek restitution from them at a later date. In the meantime, I am seeking damages in the amount of one third of collected ticket revenue, the equivalent percentage of time the Lightning players frequently failed to show up for any given game.

From Clare Austin, Raw Charge contributor:

This is a tough question for me. There's just so much blame to go around. I even tried to make a joke of it, but first I got angry and then I got depressed and pretty soon it wasn't at all funny, and I've promised myself never to force the funny. That just gets embarrassing.

Which brings me right back to this season, so that's a nice segue.

It's impossible for me to untangle the knots the team got themselves into. Did Yzerman actually put his foot down and tell Boucher he couldn't use the 1-3-1? If so that's a Very Bad Thing. I really don't want the general manager channeling Jerry Jones. I can't decide whether I think this was likely, though it is possible. Was Boucher simply unable to adapt to changing situations? Did he not get the right players? Did the veterans refuse to cooperate? Did the new guys never catch on?If so who's to blame there, the coach or the player? Or both?

I'd like to be able to blame Eric Brewer for a lot of things, but a good team can overcome one Eric Brewer Version 2013. They can't overcome 8 or 9 of them. And I don't think even crazy fans can sue turnovers. No one was able to get the @#$%ing puck over the @#$%ing line without turning it over, it seemed. Well, except the kiddos, and they can't play all the minutes.And even then, they made a lot of mistakes, too. It's not even just the abysmal goaltending, though it was absolutely terrible at times. So much other stuff didn't get done that only an extraordinary goaltender on an extraordinary hot streak would have been able to save the season.

I realize at this point that I could go on for much longer than there's really room for here. I guess I'd end up naming them all. Except Marty. I think maybe he gets a pass.

From John Fontana, Raw Charge managing editor:

A frivolous lawsuit against someone tied to the Tampa Bay Lightning for damages sustained because of them? Perhaps I should go full out at departed Lightning head coach Guy Boucher. Well, no, not Guy Boucher himself but his scar. I mean, something malicious was behind the Lightning’s Jekyll and Hyde routine this season (and in past seasons). There had to be something malignant tied to that, right? Blame the scar.

Or perhaps I ought to go with Eric Brewer? I’m not going to submit a laundry list of grievances, I’m just going to link to this image as Exhibit A and be done with it.

But, really, if you have a frivolous lawsuit, you should have a compelling reason to try to take it to court in the first place. Damages? From this season? One person? No, you need to go broader than one season and lack of results that have harmed my person and damaged my emotions. The defendant in my lawsuit would be none other than goalie coach Frantz Jean. I believe Clare already stated the issues that revolve around Jean. And while we could simply say that others (read: Yzerman, Boucher and Cooper) kept him employed despite consistent failings that harmed the Lightning, harmed results, and harmed my emotional well being, it’s Jean who was responsible for his own instructions (and the lack of adaptation) that resulted in consistently poor performances in net (and excuse making for such things) by Lightning goalies.

As for me, I would like to go the Brian Burke route and sue the bloggers. It is, after all, the bloggers who have to keep the team focused, who have to hold the management and coaches accountable. After all, if we weren't telling them what to do, how would they know?

I'll start with Raw Charge. See you in court, gang.


Nolan Whyte is an infrequent contributor to Raw Charge (you can see why). He also blogs hockey at Frozen Sheets Hockey and posts fiction at End City. Make love to him on twitter at @nolanwhyte.