The Lightning on Friday began what might be an extensive reworking of its coaching staff by not retaining assistant Dan Lacroix.
Hired in summer 2010 with former head coach Guy Boucher, Lacroix, 44, handled the defense and penalty kill. The door is not closed on him remaining with the organization, but he is free to look for other opportunities. His contract is up at the end of June.
"With a new (head) coach," general manager Steve Yzerman said of Jon Cooper, "we're trying to find the right fit as far as skills and experience."
There have been no final decisions, Yzerman said, on assistant Steve Thomas and goaltenders coach Frantz Jean. Both have contracts that expire at the end of June. Yzerman has said his intention was to bring Jean back.
Lacroix's replacement will help determine how the coaching staff is configured. If the new assistant has an lot of NHL experience, perhaps Tampa Bay sticks with two assistants. If he has less experience, Yzerman said he is not opposed to staffing a third position.
Rumors during the season had former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson talking to the Lightning. Samuelsson spent 2006-11 as a Coyotes assistant. His contract as coach of Sweden's Modo is expiring, according to reports.
"We're contemplating a lot of things," Yzerman said, "and what is the best fit."
Said Lacroix: "I'm just grateful for the opportunity Steve gave me. I'm not just saying that. I want what's best for this organization, and if I can contribute, I would."