TAMPA — As if losing in Game 7 of the Western Conference final against the Blackhawks didn't sting enough in the spring, Ducks assistant Brad Lauer was fired a week later, the only member of Anaheim's staff let go.
Whether Lauer was a scapegoat or not, it was tough to swallow for the 48-year-old father of two.
"It's never easy," he said. "But it's part of the business."
But once Lauer found out in late June that the Lightning was looking for an assistant on coach Jon Cooper's staff, after George Gwozdecky departed for Valor Christian High in Colorado, he made a few calls.
And Tuesday, Tampa Bay hired Lauer, who said he'll primarily work with the forwards and collaborate with Cooper on the power play.
"I'm very excited," Lauer said by phone. "I got to see a lot of (the Lightning's) games last season. They play an exciting style, are very high-paced, with a lot of different weapons."
General manager Steve Yzerman had indicated he would likely look for an assistant to help the power play, which was 14th in the 30-team NHL last season (18.8 percent) and was inconsistent in the playoffs, especially in the six-game Stanley Cup final loss to Chicago.
Lauer was in charge of forwards and power play last season with Anaheim, which was 28th with the man advantage (15.7). Lauer said he focused on the penalty kill in his previous three seasons with the Ducks. In June, Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement that the team "decided to refocus and change the responsibilities of one of the assistant coach position."
Lauer was disappointed, pointing out they had some good years in Anaheim, but was grateful the Ducks gave him his first NHL coaching job after a few AHL assistant stints. Lauer, a former NHL left wing who logged 323 career games with four teams, played for fellow Lightning assistant Rick Bowness in Ottawa in 1993.
"It's a great opportunity," Lauer said. "I'm honored."
Contact Joe Smith at [email protected].