Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Blunder' not the way to assess Tampa Bay Lightning goalie situation

A recent article in the Hockey News stated Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman made a "management blunder" signing goaltender Dwayne Roloson last summer and letting Mike Smith leave via free agency.

And Smith — with a 33-18-9 record, 2.36 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with the Coyotes entering Saturday — certainly has Tampa Bay fans thinking what might have been.

But a blunder? Too harsh.

Rather, it was a confluence of circumstances that pushed Yzerman into what at the time seemed a good decision that ultimately produced a bad result.

First, no one predicted Roloson's game would drop off as it has, especially after he played so well last season. Yes, he is 42 and needed a one-game breather near the end of last season's playoffs, but Tampa Bay without him would not have gone as far.

Second, Smith was bad enough at times last season that he briefly was demoted to AHL Norfolk. And the Lightning did offer him a contract, though you can bet it was for less than the $4 million the Coyotes committed. Keep in mind Mathieu Garon got $2.6 million for two years to be a backup.

Plus, Smith wanted to be a No. 1, something the Coyotes immediately offered.

Finally, the idea Smith would have recreated his Phoenix numbers for Tampa Bay is not a given. There are too many variables.

Knowing the competitor in Smith, his motivation to tweak the Lightning is probably through the roof, an impulse he would not have had with Tampa Bay. He is getting more defensive help, too.

Smith also found a mentor/kindred spirit in Coyotes goaltenders coach Sean Burke, whom Smith credits with helping him, above all else, get the mental part of his game in order.

"He's just such a calming influence," Smith told Yahoo Sports.

The bottom line is that a blunder is a mistake made through stupidity. Yzerman and the Lightning were done in by circumstance.

'Blunder' not the way to assess Tampa Bay Lightning goalie situation 03/24/12 [Last modified: Sunday, March 25, 2012 12:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 11:01: No Dickerson today as the Rays go with seven right-handers.

    Here is the lineup:

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]