Three years later, we are once again pushed forward into the unknown of the immediate future; we're pushed by change which is an uncontrollable constant in this world. No matter how comfortable you get, no matter how adamant you are in a position, change is a certainty like death and taxes (...and Cory Conacher, but that's a different story for a different day).
I wasn't around for Saturday's loss to Ottawa, what would ultimately be Guy Boucher's last game as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I can't say he wasn't on the hot seat, I do believe he hadn't provided a reason for his retention after this season concluded...
It's hard for me to believe that we find out Sunday morning he's been canned. Perhaps Monday morning after the results of tonight's game in Winnipeg (if Boucher's firing was going to happen in-season), but not on the road, and not on game day.
I like to cite Boucher's "process" quote from 2011. I link to it here and spare you the context (as I've cited it a few times in the past). Guy's crime is that the process of becoming stunted and halted despite a talented roster. The team hadn't been performing at a level it's capable of, and I don't buy into anyone suggesting that Boucher lost the room. I do buy into the idea Boucher may have missed a flaw in his system... Or that he moved too far away from his own ideals (including his "40 shots for, limiting opponents to 20 shots or less" ideal ) in a compromise of the reality that is the NHL.
But this process, the process of Guy Boucher leading the Tampa Bay Lightning, is now over. It is an abrupt end, mid chapter, to this story but an outcome that was foreshadowed by team performance.
And so we move forward. The next head coach of the Lightning may already be in the wings - if a full time head coach is not named until after the season, it further cements the idea Jon Cooper will be promoted from the Syracuse Crunch to the NHL upon the conclusion of the Crunch's AHL season.
General Manager Steve Yzerman, by this move, also puts himself squarely under the microscope now. For all his strengths in developing the long term plan for the Lightning, it's building a competitive NHL level team that is what he's charged with. If the Lightning continues to struggle, more scrutiny will go Stevie Y's way, which will be a far cry from the days when we collectively crowed how Yzerman is Jedi for what he pulled off regarding roster moves and building the Bolts.
What is a certainty is that there are 17 games left in this NHL season, the NHL trade deadline is 10 days away. While players have been waived, the fact no one has been traded would make it seem that this season has not been given up upon. That doesn't mean the Lightning will not be sellers, it also doesn't write off the idea the team will be buyers either - but I'm wary at this point of what will happen in any trade deadline transaction; if this team (with veterans) was competitive with veterans to a point, and the franchise is moving toward youth... Any trade (or amnesty buyout this off season) may well bring an end to the tenures of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.
In spite of the dismissal of the head coach, this is not a time for mourning for the Bolts. It's game day, it's business-as-usual or at least they need to try to keep it as such.
Yet business as usual ceased with the dismissal of Guy Boucher. "Usual" will be redefined shortly. It's a change, and change is a certainty in this life....