With Lemaire out, Lightning should look higher for help
The news yesterday was that Jacques Lemaire has other opportunities in the NHL, and he is exploring those instead of a gig with the Bolts. No harm, no foul. There's no ill-will to be expressed toward him for it, nor with the Lightning for not signing him. Best wishes to him and all that jazz...
Instead of taking a cynical approach and trying to assess blame for whatever reason ("out of habit" being the most likely one), now is the perfect opportunity to step back and take a grander view at things with the role that a consultant should play with the Lightning.
And that was probably the biggest stumbling block with the idea of Lemaire joining the Bolts to begin with. The role was never defined and any candidate for a job need to know just how you would be involved in such a capacity before taking the job. What exactly is the job, what are the basic of what you'd be doing, what type of contribution are expected of you and at what level of franchise operation?
Without definition, the consultant role is simply to create a stir and some buzz of the name being involved with the club. That's not what the Lightning need, as they've already suffered the buzz-idea, bad-implementation fiasco with the change of head coaches last off-season. They need a defined involvement from an executive. Not an in-name-only involvement.
So here's my humble suggestion for the job... Maybe this is exactly what they had in mind? Maybe not... None of this is meant in disrepect toward ownership or Lawton (as they get enough of that, as-is, no matter what they do):
This consultant needs to be versed at team operations and also general franchise operations (stuff that goes well beyond on-ice product). Go the executive route before former coach/player. Someone who instills confidence and knowledge over someone you know personally.
This person should be willing to be another go-between voice at the very top: Barrie and Koules could disagree, but they can bounce the entire argument off this person before going for a final say in Brian Lawton. Someone with a temperment befitting of the role as mediator as well.
This person should have enough experience to help out / consult the still wet-behind-the-ears GM in Brian Lawton. Lawton should have the ultimate say but again, much like with ownership, this person should be a voice to discuss potential choices/moves with and bounce ideas off of. Someone who has enough experience to actually offer sound logic and not impulse "that'd be cool" decision making. I cite Gerry Hunsinker with the Tampa Bay Rays as the prime example of this role.
Someone who can manage a staff and possibly raise morale of employees at St. Pete Times Forum. Lets face it, how the firings went down in April lacked a certain tact. Yeah, business is business and times are tough but the moves and how they went about lacked a certain empathy from those in control. Restoring confidence, pride and a feeling of security is a necessity.
In short, the ideal candidate would be a go-between, someone who takes the glare off ownership and lifts a bit of the load off everyone's shoulders at the same time. It'd be a tough job to do and could easily result in discombobulation once again if the person is too ego-driven, but another even keel in the front office should instill greater confidence from the fans in the franchise's direction.
Maybe the idea is dead now that Lemaire is out of the picture? That'd be a shame... At the same time, I really hope they don't think Mike Keenan should be explored as an option. That'd potentially be a disaster in the making, with too much ego conflicting at all levels to really move the franchise forward.