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 promises consequences if Tampa Bay Lightning players aren't ready for training camp

Lightning coach Rick Tocchet is emphasizing the need for conditioning over the summer. “If you’re not in shape, there’s ramifications,” he said.


Lightning coach Rick Tocchet is emphasizing the need for conditioning over the summer. “If you’re not in shape, there’s ramifications,” he said.

TAMPA — Rick Tocchet did not tippy-toe around on his first day as Lightning coach.

You could even say he gave his players the equivalent of a kick in the butt.

At least they are on notice.

Signed Monday to a two-year deal that pays about $550,000 a season, Tocchet promised consequences if players on Sept. 14 are not ready for training camp.

"If you're not in shape, there's ramifications," he said at the St. Pete Times Forum. "You might not be in camp. You might not be with the team. There are things I will do that, if you're not in shape, I'll carry out."

What a difference the lack of an interim label makes, not to mention the chance to set a tone from season's start.

"A lot of stuff I did last season was patchwork," said Tocchet, 45, elevated from associate coach in November, 16 games into the season, after Barry Melrose was fired. "Not to make excuses, but now it's like a mandate. … I'll have more conviction in how we're going to play right off the bat. There will be no leeway, no compromise on certain things."

He said he told team leaders Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Mike Smith he expects them to help carry the message.

"I'm on the clock," Tocchet said. "I'm excited."

Tocchet was 19-33-14, and the Lightning's 66 points were 29th in the 30-team league. But Tampa Bay was wrecked by injuries, including the devastating loss in January of Smith to post-concussion syndrome. An NHL-record 22 players played defense.

"Rick reminded me of someone like Winston Churchill," general manager Brian Lawton said, "somebody who did a great job under difficult circumstances."

Lawton said he liked that Tocchet did not panic during tough times, "and there certainly was no blaming anybody. The attitude was very strong. 'Whoever you guys send here, we're going to coach and make them as good as they can be.' "

So, what took Lawton so long — a month, in fact, since the end of the season — to remove Tocchet's interim tag?

"I wanted to really perform an in-depth review of everything we did, and that ranges from our players to our scouts to our coaches," Lawton said. "We had to break it down line by line."

Lawton said he even had a list of names to pursue if he determined Tocchet was not the man for the job.

"But as an organization, we want to look from within before looking outside, and it didn't seem logical (to go elsewhere) after going through the process of analyzing the job Rick did."

What is Tocchet's vision?

"You play for the crest," said the 18-year NHL veteran and an assistant with the Avalanche and Coyotes before coming to Tampa Bay. "It's something I always believed in. People will be playing for the logo and not the name on the back."

He said he wants a team that plays up-tempo, is not afraid to play on the road and with more discipline and abrasiveness.

"This team has not done well the last couple of years," Tocchet said. "There's pressure on Rick Tocchet to be the best coach he can be."

Consider himself on notice.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Rick Tocchet promises consequences if Tampa Bay Lightning players aren't ready for training camp 05/12/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 9:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener


    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.