Tampa Bay Lightning Fire Head Coach Guy Boucher

Eric SteitzAnalyst IIIMarch 24, 2013

Guy Boucher is out in Tampa Bay. Who's in?
Guy Boucher is out in Tampa Bay. Who's in?Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Early Sunday morning, the Tampa Bay Lightning released head coach Guy Boucher from his duties. From the Lightning’s official release (via Lightning.NHL.com): 

"Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done," said Yzerman upon making the announcement. "But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise."

This decision came hours after a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators. In back-to-back games, Tampa Bay trailed 4-0 before finally piecing together some goals to make the final score look closer than the game truly was. 

The firing comes at an interesting time as the Lightning are in the middle of a three-game Canadian road trip. After losing to Ottawa yesterday, Tampa Bay faces off against Southeast Division leader Winnipeg today. 

Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will lead the team against Winnipeg. Reaction from around the league will continue to pour. This decision could send shockwaves through the NHL—especially with the approaching trade deadline. 

Tampa Bay Times writer Damian Cristodero mentions the names of Lindy Ruff (former Sabres coach) and Jon Cooper (head coach of the Lightning’s AHL affiliate) as possible replacements. Cristodero says, “AHL Syracuse coach Jon Cooper also could be a consideration, though it might be a stretch to believe Yzerman would go with another coach untested in the NHL.” 

That’s an interesting dynamic to consider going forward for the Lightning. If they don’t promote Cooper, he may not be in the Tampa Bay organization much longer. His success in the AHL ranks should lead to a promotion to the NHL sometime soon. 

As for Ruff, he was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL before he was fired in Buffalo. He is a veteran guy, but how would he be received by the Lightning’s young guns? 

Many of the AHL call-ups this season have flourished under Boucher. Would Ruff have the same effect? We know Cooper would since he was the one that coached them to the NHL level. 

With a huge game against Winnipeg Sunday night (7 p.m. ET), how will the Lightning respond to losing their coach? They are just five points back of the playoffs with very little time to make up ground.