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)

Rick Tocchet is Tampa Bay Lightning's 'interim' coach in name only

Rick Tocchet, it seems, is an interim coach in name only.

Players Mark Recchi and Marty St. Louis both say Tocchet, who took over Nov. 14 for the fired Barry Melrose, deserves to have the interim label removed. Captain Vinny Lecavalier has explained how Tocchet, associate coach Mike Sullivan and assistant Wes Walz brought structure and on-ice discipline to the team with in-depth instruction, tough love and video.

"He's done a great job," St. Louis said. "He's brought accountability and a work ethic. He's proven he can lead this team. He deserves the opportunity."

The interim label, St. Louis said, "It's just on paper."

It likely will be status quo until the season ends.

Tocchet, 12-15-6 in his first head-coaching gig, said he was told when he got the job that his future would not be discussed until then, and general manager Brian Lawton reiterated that still is the plan.

That worked in Tocchet's favor when the team went 1-7-4 in his first 12 games and he didn't have to look over his shoulder.

"They've been honest saying they were going to wait, and I have no problem with that," Tocchet said. "I know what I can do as a coach, and I love my coaching staff. Whatever happens, happens. My focus is on trying to get this team some wins."

He keeps perspective, though. When St. Louis, wife Heather and sons, Ryan, 5; Lucas, 3; and Mason, 1, had travel troubles returning from Montreal the day after the All-Star Game, Tocchet texted the right wing to skip practice.

"He had a hell of a time with his family and young kids," Tocchet said. "I just felt the last thing he needed was a 45-minute practice. I just wanted to make sure he was with his family. It's important. Hockey is a priority, but family is No. 1."

Which is why when defenseman Jamie Heward was carted off the ice with a concussion during a Jan. 1 game in Washington, the coaches made sure Heward's wife was called with the news her husband was conscious and moving.

"That's just respect, and that goes a long way with your players," Tocchet said. "If you're asking them to go through a wall for you, you have to step up to the plate. It's something I always thought you should do, whether you're a coach or anybody."

Interim or not.

Rick Tocchet is Tampa Bay Lightning's 'interim' coach in name only 01/31/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 1, 2009 8:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life



  2. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  3. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  4. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  5. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.