The way forward: Tocchet, Lawton relieved of duties in Tampa
Let me take the glut of remarks from Jeffrey Vinik's letter:
Effective immediately, I have decided to replace both Brian Lawton as General Manager and Rick Tocchet as Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.....
As you know, our search for a new CEO is well underway. I'm happy to announce that we have received quite a few resumes. We are in the process of interviewing a number of very highly qualified candidates.
Starting today, we will begin our search for a new GM. The new CEO will hire the new GM. It will then be the responsibility of the new GM to hire the new Head Coach. We plan to have this exciting hiring process all wrapped up prior to the NHL Draft.
No matter what you thought Jeff Vinik should do with Rick Tocchet and Brian Lawton, the ultimate decree has been passed down and go from there.
The writing had been on the wall that Lawton may not be back for a while, so that should not be surprising. Neither should Tocchet's dismissal. You see, while everyone can mention the great work he's had done with Steve Downie and Steven Stamkos, there are 21 other roster spots with players. Can we honestly say anyone improved under Tocchet? That the defense improved after a revamp from last season? That he effectively used what he had at his disposal in a consistent fashion?
As Vinik himself said in the quoted text from his letter, the search is now on for a new GM and head coach. We move forward. Who is available in each of these empty slots and what they bring to the team will ultimately guide the direction of the franchise - on ice and off - for the foreseeable future.
We're not going to speculate (yet) about coaching... And while nostalgia might suggest Jay Feaster is the ideal candidate for General Manager, the oft-mentioned "decade of poor drafting" by the team is partly under his watch.
This will be a process. It may not play out for media spectacle like it would in other markets, but it will be a deliberate process.
And so we move forward...