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Past time for Lightning to strip 'interim' from coach Rick Tocchet's title

Isn't it time we got on with this Rick Tocchet thing?

Nothing against the process that certainly can hit snags because business keeps people occupied or on the road, but shouldn't the coach's interim title been taken away already?

We certainly haven't heard anything but glowing reports from the team about the job Tocchet has done, and do not let his 19-33-14 record fool you.

Facing a flood of injuries, a lack of organizational depth that forced the team to play with what really was a minor-league defense and a roster in upheaval that included 50 players and an NHL-record 22 blue liners, Tocchet, 45, has done everything asked in an impossible situation.

And the working relationship among Tocchet, associate coach Mike Sullivan, assistant Wes Walz and goaltenders coach Cap Raeder is one of the season's few success stories.

The team has allowed Tocchet to talk about his vision for next season, the kind of players he wants and how he will conduct training camp.

Yet, Tocchet remains an interim, and likely will, GM Brian Lawton said at a recent fan forum, until the two meet after Tuesday's draft lottery in Toronto, which Lawton will attend.

Lawton didn't say anything would be resolved, just that they would meet. All of which is fine, except for a few points.

Seems Tampa Bay would have wanted this season's players to know Tocchet is its guy, that he is the one they have to impress next season. That might have produced a more consistent effort as this season came to an end.

Tocchet also has earned it, coaching a team with a roster (again, injuries played a big part) that did not allow for success.

Tocchet says he is fine with it, that he is willing to go at the team's pace to sign his first head coaching contract. Meanwhile, Tocchet and staff continued to hold 80-minute teaching practices and video tutorials.

"You still want them to take something away with them," Tocchet said last week. "The coaching staff has not given up. You've got to stay with that structure."

Not just in the interim.

Past time for Lightning to strip 'interim' from coach Rick Tocchet's title 04/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 12, 2009 7:47am]
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