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Lightning Round: Which current Tampa Bay player could be a future coach?

Who might follow in the footsteps of Marty St. Louis?

Victor Hedman in Tampa

There are currently three former Tampa Bay Lightning players coaching in the NHL. The newest, Marty St. Louis, is the interim head coach in Montreal while Gerard Gallant is behind the bench for the New York Rangers, and Sheldon Keefe is in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not bad for an organization that’s been around for less than 30 years. Is there anyone on the current roster that could be a NHL bench boss in a few years?

Coaching is a funny thing. It’s rare that the super-talented players are able to generate their own on-ice success into coaching victories. The greatest player to ever lace up the skates, Wayne Gretzky, was only 143-161-24 in four seasons as the Arizona Coyotes head coach. Ted Williams, the greatest hitter ever, was 273-364 as the manager of the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers.

Sometimes, the great ones have trouble explaining how they did things to less talented players. Their success was so instinctual that it’s difficult for them to pass that knowledge on to their charges. So while Nikita Kucherov might be the best player on the Lighting right now, he might not make the best head coach down the road.

However, there is one player on the current Tampa Bay roster that might turn that notion on it’s ear - Victor Hedman.

The Big Swede is immensely talented, but also plays a cerebral game. While the Lightning haven’t developed many defenseman since, well, Hedman, the veteran blueliner is developing as a mentor for young players like Cal Foote and Sean Day.

As Coach Cooper said last year about him:

‘Heddy’ and McDonagh, they’re unbelievable human beings, so giving their time, their knowledge, their wisdom, they’ll gladly do it. So if you’re coming into an organization, it’s a pretty good one to come in with those two guys in the room.”

Along the way he’s developed from talented young player to a leader in the locker room. If Steven Stamkos wasn’t on this team, there is no doubt Hedman would be wearing the “C”. As Stamkos himself has said in the past,

“That was something that I think Heddy wanted to evolve into and he took a step forward in that and (the media doesn’t) necessarily see that stuff in the room, but we all know what Heddy can do on the ice. He’s one of the best defensemen in the world and we’re lucky to have him, but he took on more of a leadership role and I think that helped his game too. He was counted on more, relied upon more and he stepped up.”

At 31-years-old it’s not like he’s moved into the grizzled veteran stage of his career. He still has a few years before that happens, so that means he’s still learning as well. Still, at some point in the next decade or so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make that transition. At 6’6” he’d cut quite an imposing figure.

What do you think? Is there anyone else on the roster that could swap the sweater for a suit?

Lightning / NHL News

St. Louis was a coach in the making while playing for the Lightning [Tampa Bay Times]

Victor Hedman - “He’s been a tremendous influence on me and my career, and hopefully for those young guys, they can take notes from him and learn from him. As a coach, you oversee everyone, but with those young kids, trying to guide them, I think he’s going to do a tremendous job.” St. Louis will make his first visit to Amalie Arena as a coach on April 2nd.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Syracuse Crunch

Austin Watson suspended for two games for hit on Jack Ahcan [Boston.com]

High, late, and along the boards. Yeah, that’s a suspension worthy hit. Watson will sit for the next two games and think about his actions while forfeiting $15,000 in salary. He’ll miss the Nashville Predators games against the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes.

The Devils offensive explosion ends [All About the Jersey]

The Lightning’s next opponent, the New Jersey Devils, scored seven goals in their previous two games. On Sunday, that streak ended with a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nico Hischier did score in his fourth straight game.

10 people to watch at the trade deadline [ESPN]

Ron Francis has a chance to remake his roster a bit during the trade deadline. With six pending UFA’s he should be able to get some sort of return for them. The same goes for Jeff Gorton in Montreal. Does he manage to move some veterans in order to surround Cole Caufield with some young talent?

Gemel Smith and Givani Smith may play their first game together tonight:

A look back at Paul Kariya’s career [bchnetwork.com]

This one is for our former boss - Acha. A nice look back at Paul Kariya’s career.

Olympic Hockey Scores:

On the men’s side of the ledger:

Slovakia 5, Latvia 2

Finland 4, Sweden 3

Canada 5, China 0

U.S.A. 3, Germany 2

The women are in the semi-final:

Canada 10, Switzerland 3

The U.S.A. and Finland are playing as this is being published.