Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rick Tocchet, fired as Tampa Bay Lightning coach, still speaks well of owner Jeff Vinik

TAMPA — How's this for a how-do-you-do?

In Rick Tocchet's first conversation with new Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, he was fired as Tampa Bay's coach.

Even so, Tocchet said he was impressed by Vinik during the 10-minute chat Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"I think he's going to be the right guy for Tampa Bay, I really do," Tocchet said. "Hopefully, he makes the right decisions and gets the right people in here."

If you expected Tocchet to be down after being canned, you were disappointed.

He said he was looking forward to watching the playoffs, which start Wednesday. He said he was looking forward to relaxing and that the phone calls and e-mails he received helped him get over any emotional hump.

"It's nice to have when things don't go well," he said. "You have people who support you."

"He's a hard-working guy. He's a hard-nosed guy," left wing Marty St. Louis said. "I wish it didn't come down to this, but when you get the results we had the last little while, you have a feeling there's going to be changes."

"You feel bad because Tocchet is a great guy. He really put his heart and soul into what he was trying to do here. It just didn't work out. It's unfortunate, but it's the nature of the business."

Tocchet, 46, in his first full year as a head coach, was 53-69-26 after taking over for the fired Barry Melrose in November 2008.

But Tocchet, with a hands-on approach, gets credit for helping center Steven Stamkos to grow to his potential and for setting volatile right wing Steve Downie on the right course.

"Rick was a lot of help in my career," said Stamkos, whose 51 goals tied Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the league lead. "You definitely have a relationship with a coach, and I had a great one with Rick. He was the one who gave me the opportunity, and I'm thankful for that."

"Its definitely disappointing," said Downie, whose breakout season included 22 goals and a team-best plus-14. "He and I had a good relationship. He gave me a chance to play and really taught me how to focus on the right things. It's disappointing to see something like that change."

Tocchet, who had disagreements with general manager Brian Lawton, said he is not sure when he will get back into coaching but will be picky.

"I'd have to believe in the people I work with," he said. "I'd have to have some kind of say and involvement in a stable situation. I'm not going to take a job just to take a job."

Will he be a better coach the next time around?

"Definitely, absolutely," Tocchet said. "I've been in the game 25 years, and I've seen a lot in the last year and a half."

Draft lottery: The best the Lightning can hope for in tonight's draft lottery is to win the No. 2 overall pick.

Tampa Bay (34-36-12) finished with 80 points, fifth from the bottom of the 30-team league, meaning it has the No. 5 pick. Teams can move up four spots and down only one, so the worst the Lightning will pick is sixth.

Tampa Bay will be assigned 62 of the 1,000 lottery balls, meaning it has a 6.2 percent chance of being selected.

Rick Tocchet, fired as Tampa Bay Lightning coach, still speaks well of owner Jeff Vinik 04/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 12, 2010 10:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 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]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    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.

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

    Baseballpreps

    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.
  4. 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.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter