Question of the Week/Season: Reactions to Guy Boucher's removal

The RC staff explain this development in their own words.

We were all shocked this morning by the news of Guy Boucher's firing. Why? Why now? Good or bad decision? And internal discussions made it clear that there are at least a thousand different opinions on the subject. These are ours:

[But first, via's Erik Erlendsson, here's Steve Yzerman's press conference about the move:]

I was talking with Mike Gallimore on Twitter about this the other day, but here's the biggest part of the situation for me:

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Over a long period of time, starting in March 2011, the Lightning have been increasingly unable to do the little things that lead to winning records. They have been getting worse, not better at it as time goes on. And when you add to that the power play woes, the goaltending woes (and don't forget that Frantz Jean is Boucher's man), and the aura of defeat that has hung over these players for the last 12 months or more, you have a systemic problem. That's coaching, in my mind. If you can't adjust and prevent the exposure of your players' weaknesses, that's coaching. They couldn't even respond to losing any more.

I don't understand the timing of the move. There just has to be someone waiting in the wings.

Cassie McClellan, Managing Editor:

Frankly, I think firing Guy Boucher now was sort of dumb. The damage has been done, the season's pretty much all but over, and one more month of the same probably wouldn't change much. On top of that, any coach that comes in now likely won't fare much better than Boucher did. Oh, they might get a couple of more wins out of it than Boucher might've, but that's sort of a big "if". I'd like for them to prove me wrong, but most teams don't change their direction much after a coaching change happens.

As for the future coach, if they don't move Jon Cooper up, then he'll probably be gone this summer to another NHL team. He may have a better shot at changing the direction of the team than an experienced coach would, but only because half of his AHL team is in the NHL right now due to injuries. From all that I've heard, his assistant coach, Rob Zettler, is more than capable to get the Syracuse Crunch deep into playoffs, so I'm not too worried about the AHL affiliate if Cooper leaves for the Lightning. And bringing in an experienced NHL coach instead of Cooper probably won't have much of an effect until next season.

John Fontana, Managing Editor:

I like Guy Boucher. I like his philosophies, I like his attitude, I have liked his approach. What I haven't liked is the lack of adaptation the past two years, and sticking with things that don't work, especially personnel (read: a certain goalie coach in the organization who is not at the NHL level alone). While I think the timing was bad on this, I say that having conceded the season. Yzerman's statements would have you think that the organization hasn't conceded shit at this point. If Guy Boucher couldn't get more out of his players, and Yzerman believes someone else could, then so-be-it.

But there will be a grand change if the Bolts hire their next head coach from outside the organization. For the sake of synergy, it means looming change In Syracuse and the system that has been taught there too

Matt Amos, Staff Writer/Don't Trade Vinny:

I don't think Mr. Vinik is to blame here. I think our peers are.

This entire situation is, in essence, the entire existence of the Lightning. Mr. Vinik is a businessman, and a good one, and listens to his customers. And, as most of you know, Lightning fans are... well, not the most rational group of people.

They hype of the 2010-2011 season encompassed us all. I bought in, had some fun with the beard, and generally loved seeing the Lightning in the playoffs again. But there was something I didn't broadcast: the knowledge that it was NOT real. The general Lightning-fan-that's-never-actually-been-a-part-of-a-sports-team part of the fan base (roughly 99.6% of it...) bought in to the fact that Rick Tocchet is a fucking moron (took them long enough) and that all we needed was someone with an IQ higher than that of a cat and we'd be fine. And, for a season, it seemed like the players themselves thought so too.

But deep down, though I never said so, I knew it was bullshit. The 2009-2010 team was TERRIBLE. And, just as a reminder, that 2010-2011 team that everyone reveres included TEN (10) players from the year before. For those unfamiliar, that's a big portion of a hockey team. And while Rick Tocchet's level of shittiness as a coach is pretty much unbeatable, nobody could turn that 2009-2010 team into a contender unless pretty much EVERYONE had a career year.

And except for Vinny (trade that asshole), that's pretty much what happened. And because the general Lightning fan base has the patience of a 3rd grader, Guy was anointed king of the world and we all agreed to the fact that the Rick Tocchet/Brian Lawton era had never happened.

Sadly, the new car smell wore off of Guy pretty quickly and the true merit of the team showed its face. The goaltending coach is a fucking joke at best and a masquerading criminal at worst. He has a long history of ruining perfectly capable goalies and when you combine poor goal tending fundamentals with a coach who likes offensive defense men, you get what we have now; a not-that-good hockey team with a fan base that only shows up when the team is winning.

Which brings me back to my point. This painful, strange, and undesirable transition is what was supposed to happen all along. Sure, Guy Boucher may have lost sight of the goal, and CLEARLY Steve Yzerman has, but the pressure causing them to do so has a direct correlation to the "Lightning faithful" collectively saying "this sucks!!1 I'm not going!!!1" and the pressure of 'good business' pushing them to such drastic measures.

Clark Brooks, Staff Writer:

I'm disappointed. I'll admit right up front that I liked coach Boucher personally, but aside from that, young, dynamic coaches don't come around every day and I think his dismissal is a failure on behalf of the organization. That said, it's a results-oriented position and I can't make a case for retaining him based on the team's performance. I'm bouyed by the fact that under Mr. Vinik's ownership, the organization doesn't make uncalculated, underinformed decisions. The plan that was laid out three years ago may not have worked but I don't believe they'd abandon it without having some ideas for a new one. One thing I want to say about the possible hiring of Jon Cooper and how that would "screw" Syracuse is that the Tampa Bay Lightning aren't in the business of trying to win Calder Cups. That's not to imply that the Crunch and their fans aren't important but the minor league affiliate's role is to support the parent club, not vice-versa. I want the Crunch to do well, but it's far more important to me that the Tampa Bay Lightning use the resources at their disposal to improve the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Carolyn Christians, Staff Writer

As an outside observer, I don't have a good enough feel for the organization to get into the nitty-gritty. But you could reduce it to this:

The team was in a downward spiral, for complex and interrelated reasons, only a fraction of which are likely visible to outsiders. The easiest, quickest fix to re-set was fire the coach. Happens several times a year across all sports leagues. The particulars are always different, and rarely does it fail to achieve its desired effect in the short term. No need to point fingers.

Same could be said of the Sabres earlier this month, the Leafs a year ago, the Habs over the summer, firings of Boudreau and Maurice and....

Once the shock wears off, it all works out.

So what do you think?

What do you think of the Lightning's decision to fire head coach Guy Boucher?

Should have been done a long time ago13
Good decision, good timing16
Now Jon Cooper can take over.30
Good decision, bad timing.27
Disastrous decision. Coaching was not the Lightning's biggest problem.47
I was told there'd be snacks.30