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Tampa Bay Lightning, down an assistant with Wayne Fleming ailing, might hire a coaching consultant

The Tampa Bay Lightning might hire a coaching consultant to take some of the work load off coach Guy Boucher and assistants Dan Lacroix and Marty Raymond. The move, only a consideration at this point, is taking shape because it is clear assistant Wayne Fleming, in the 13th month of his fight with brain cancer, is not returning to the team. His absence last season created added responsibilities for the remaining staff.

General manager Steve Yzerman said he has no plans at this time to hire another full-time assistant. A decision on whether to hire a consultant will be made when Yzerman and Boucher talk after the world championship, which ends May 20 in Helsinki, Finland, where Boucher is an assistant with Team Canada.

As for Fleming, 61, Yzerman said, he "is not seeing a lot of improvement right now."

Lacroix and Raymond recently visited Fleming at his Calgary home, where they spent the day watching and talking about hockey.

“Hockey is what gets his eyes open wide,” Lacroix recalled. “He listened mostly but he was engaged. He talked to us and we laughed and we had a really good day with him. It was nice to see his spirit.”

Said Yzerman: "He keeps plugging away and fighting but, unfortunately, there’s not much news I can report to you.”

What Lacroix can report from Helsinki, where he and Raymond are participating in coaching conferences and watching the world championship, is the keen interest in Fleming’s condition. Not surprising as Fleming, who had brain surgery in April 2011, has close ties to Hockey Canada for which he was vice president of hockey operations and won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics as an associate coach.

“One thing she told me,” Lacroix said of Fleming’s wife Carolyn, with whom he stays in close touch, “is the hockey community has been unbelievable. Even here, I’ve had so many people asking us, me and Marty, ‘How’s Wayne?’ They’re going through a battle, but the support from the hockey community has been tremendous. That’s been something good that’s happened.”

[Last modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 5:30pm]

    

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