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 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.

DIRK SHADD | Times

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 cristodero@sptimes.com

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

Loading...
  1. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return

    Blogs

    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  3. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  4. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  5. Ww's Odessabeach makes run at Husker Magic stakes final

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida earlier this month, Ww's Odessabeach remained in her comfort zone.