For the second straight offseason, Lightning coach Jon Cooper made a change on his staff.
Assistant Steve Thomas, 52, will not return next season, his contract not renewed by the club, general manager Steve Yzerman confirmed Monday. Thomas, a longtime NHL forward, had been on Cooper's staff since the 2013-14 season, and with the organization since 2010, when he was a player development coordinator (2010-2012). Thomas was Tampa Bay's player development coach in 2012-13.
Thomas' main responsibility was with forwards. Thomas, with 421 career goals, could likely land on another NHL staff, ESPN reporting he's already spoken to a few teams. It's unclear if Tampa Bay will pursue a replacement. The Lightning didn't renew assistant George Gwozdecky's contract after last season, hiring Brad Lauer in his place.
The Lightning could try to address its power play, which ranked 28th in the NHL this season, by adding a coach (Adam Oates?) to help with it. Currently, Cooper primarily runs that special teams unit.
Thomas and Yzerman, could not be reached for comment.
SCHEDULE UP: The Lightning announced its preseason schedule Monday, with three home games starting Sept. 27 against the Hurricanes. The other home games are Sept. 29 against the Panthers and Oct, 8 vs. the Predators. Tampa Bay's road games: the Hurricanes on Sept. 30, the Predators on Oct. 1 and the Panthers on Oct. 6. The regular-season schedule will come out around June 21.