Tocchet signing likely next week
It looks like Rick Tocchet finally will be signed as the Lightning's coach some time next week. Lightning GM Brian Lawton said he will meet with Rick Tocchet early in the week, and while not giving any other specifics, it makes sense Tocchet finally will get the interim tag off his title. Coaches coming in to new jobs generally are given three-year deals.
"My fault. Blame it on me," Lawton said Thursday about the long process. "I'm slow. Whatever you want to say. He did a great job, but it wasn't the season we wanted. ... You do your due diligence."
On a side note, expect assistant Wes Walz and goaltenders coach Cap Raeder to also be back. It is well known that associate coach Mike Sullivan, who worked so well with Tocchet, aspires to return to head coaching, and there is the matter of what Rangers coach John Tortorella might want, so we probably won't know until later in the summer whether Sullivan will return. His contract with Tampa Bay ends after this season.
With all that in mind, let's see what Tocchet said during last week's exit interviews:
On Vinny Lecavalier: "We had a great talk. He wants to have a great year next year. He wasn't happy with his last year and he wants to move forward with it. I asked him as a coach, how do I make you play better? We talked about that. He wants to change the culture around here. It's been two losing seasons and he wants to do what it takes. He told me all the things I want to hear. Now, it's about actions for our team. He's part of that. He's the captain of our team, and we have to move forward to change this losing culture that's here right now. It's contagious. He knows that, and we have to stand it up right now."
On his voice in summer changes: "Well, hopefully, I'm involved. I hope my say goes a long way. I think the discussions we've had lately about the type of players we want to get here, we're all on the same page. We want to play an up-tempo type of game. We want to see more abrasive players, but we also want to be a more disciplined. team We have to increase our talent level and, obviously, the back end has to be increased. Thesecondary scoring has to be increased to be a team that can compete and go into the playoffs and win in the playoffs."
On next season: "I don't think we're going into next year to build a team to just make the playoffs. You build it to win the Stanley Cup, and that's a process. Hopefully we're going through that process this summer."
My note: I don't believe Tocchet was making a prediction about winning the Cup next season. I think he was saying you build for the long term with a commitment to win the whole thing not just to be good enough to make the postseason.