It's official: Tampa Bay Lightning fires coach Rick Tocchet and GM Brian Lawton
Here's the announcement from the team:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have relieved General Manager Brian Lawton and Head Coach Rick Tocchet of their duties, effective today, Chairman Jeff Vinik announced this morning. The search for a new General Manager will begin immediately. Assistant General Manager Tom Kurvers will assume responsibility for Lightning hockey operations until the new General Manager is hired. After the new General Manager is hired, he will select the new Head Coach.
“Now that the 2009-10 Tampa Bay Lightning season has concluded, we have decided to replace Brian and Rick,” said Vinik upon making the announcement. “Our hockey operations department needs a fresh start in order to help us fulfill our goal of being a world-class organization. I’d like to thank both Brian and Rick for their dedication and service to the Lightning.
“Our search for a Chief Executive Officer is well underway and we are in the process of interviewing candidates. After the new CEO is hired, he will hire our new General Manager in time to prepare for the draft and free agency periods.”
Lawton was hired by the Lightning in June, 2008 and then named General Manager on October 22, 2008. As General Manager, he was responsible for all aspects of hockey operations, including the coaching and scouting staff, player procurement and development and minor league affiliations and operations.
Tocchet was hired on July 9, 2008 as the team’s Associate Coach. He was elevated to the position of interim head coach just 16 games into the 2009-10 season and named head coach on May 11, 2009. Tocchet was 19-33-14 in 2008-09 and his Lightning team went 34-36-12 this past season.