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)

New Tampa Bay Lightning assistant finding comfort zone with Rick Tocchet

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It has been about a month since AHL Norfolk coach Jim Johnson was made a Lightning assistant by GM Brian Lawton, a personnel change that included the firing of assistant coach Wes Walz.

And though Johnson has yet to get on the ice, he said he and coach Rick Tocchet, who disagreed with the moves, have found a comfort zone.

"You've got to give Tocc credit," Johnson said Saturday. "It was a disruption for him, and he has to get comfortable with me and give it some time to see what I have to offer."

Johnson spends much of his time in the video room. "He's doing advanced scouting and has insight into our game plans," Tocchet said. "He's part of our staff."

"There's a lot to do," Johnson said. "It's another set of eyes looking at game films, breaking down chances for and against. … There's a bunch of charts and stuff I've been giving them. It's just how they want to utilize it."

As for being off the ice, Johnson said, "That's difficult. I'm not going to lie to you. It's not my mind-set to sit in a room. … I think I have a lot to offer on the ice as far as a development aspect, because that's really my background. But it's fine if they don't want me on the ice. If they feel they have enough guys, that's perfectly fine. I'll do whatever they want me to do.

"I wasn't going to come in here and change anything. I was asked to come in here and help, and that's basically what I've done in any way they've asked."

INJURY REPORT: RW Steve Downie played against the Sabres, though he said his right knee was still sore and swollen from Thursday's knee-to-knee hit from Boston's Dennis Wideman. Tocchet sat Downie for most of the third period as a precaution. … D David Hale (right ankle) and D Kurtis Foster (head), both hurt against Boston, were out. D Mattias Ohlund, out eight games with a sprained left ankle, was in.

SEVEN DEFENSEMEN: Tocchet played seven defenseman instead of six, including Matt Smaby, a scratch in four previous games, and Vladimir Mihalik, up from Norfolk despite the team previously indicating it would not make a move. "Just in case," Tocchet said. "We can't run into that Boston thing again," when injuries left Tampa Bay with four defensemen in the third period.

BIG CHANCE: This could be an important callup for the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Mihalik, drafted 30th overall in 2005 and whose entry-level contract is up.

"I'm quicker, faster and smarter, more decisive, too," Mihalik said. "I'm looking to make a big step forward."

Mihalik, 23, had two goals, 17 points in 70 games with Norfolk and led team defensemen at plus-8. He played 12:10 against Buffalo, with two giveaways, and was minus-1.

ODDS AND ENDS: G Antero Niittymaki was pulled after three goals on six shots in the first period, though he perhaps could be faulted on only one. "I was trying to shake the team out of a coma," Tocchet said. … C Vinny Lecavalier was thrown out of his second NHL game. The first: March 17, 2006, against the Flyers, when in the third he received an instigator penalty, a fighting major and a game misconduct. … LW Ryan Malone (knee), LW Todd Fedoruk and RW Brandon Bochenski were scratched.

New Tampa Bay Lightning assistant finding comfort zone with Rick Tocchet 03/27/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 28, 2010 12:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”