Rumor suggests Ulf Samuelsson heading back to North America via the Tampa Bay Lightning organization
Coaching and the Tampa Bay Lightning is a growing talking point among fans and media, so a report out of Sweden only adds fuel to the fire for the organization in general.
Tampa Bay Lightning coaching is in the crosshairs in many fashions going forward. Immediate reaction to the Lightning plummeting in the standings has some fans and media-type people ready with torches and pitchforks. There's also the perception that the Bolts will be losing their Syracuse affiliate's head coach in the coming months because his successes in the AHL will have him NHL-bound next season.
Dan Lacroix and Martin Raymond, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coaches, are both in contract years, adding another aspect to the drama of coaching... And now let's add a report out of Sweden and try to look at it objectively.
Recently, Sweden's Sport Expressen published a report (and mind you, that report is in Swedish and this information ascertained through Google Translate) that former NHL star and current Swedish Elite League head coach Ulf Samuelsson, whose contract is expiring, is interested in heading back to North America for next season. Part of that is for personal reasons as his two sons are in North America.
The report states that Ulf had been contacted by the Tampa Bay Lightning organization about a position in the organization (which would start next season). That's where speculation begins.
Samuelsson has been an NHL assistant coach in the past (with the Phoenix Coyotes most recently); he's also worked in the AHL for that matter. Being part of the Swedish Elite League's marquee franchise only raises his profile.
Perhaps he'd been approached about an assistant job in Tampa? It doesn't feel right that Steve Yzerman and company would approach prospective assistants for next season during the current season while issues are in play. Another possibility is that Samuelsson had been talked to regarding Syracuse - where the team and organization may well lose their head coach to opportunity elsewhere. Jon Cooper had interviewed for the Washington Capitals job during the 2012 (elongated) off season before the Caps ultimately went with Adam Oates. Cooper will be on NHL teams' radar again this summer.
There is the potential that Cooper may be brought in to Tampa as an assistant to Boucher next year (to keep him in the fold with the Lightning organization)... But that situation will not be settled until after the conclusion of the NHL and AHL seasons.
The rumor may end up completely empty, or the opportunity Samuelsson may or may not have been talked to about may have nothing to do with coaching too. For the moment, though, it's something to speculate on.