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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet doesn't fear management critique

Asked about the probability he returns next season as Lightning coach, Rick Tocchet answered almost as if the question shouldn't be asked: "If I have a year left on my deal, why shouldn't I?"

Tocchet does have one year left on his two-year contract. Still, it is easy to see how the upheaval many expect to engulf the team this summer could spread to the coaching staff.

It is quite possible owner Jeff Vinik or the new CEO, expected to be in place in the next month, could determine a new general manager is needed. A new GM might want to bring in his own coaches.

On the other hand, GM Brian Lawton could remain. Given his testy relationship with Tocchet, he also could conclude change is needed. Tocchet understands all this, of course, but also figures no decisions will be made until whatever management is in place does an evaluation. "We're all waiting to see who we have to talk to," he said. "But the one thing we're all looking forward to is going through that evaluation program. I'm looking forward to going through it. I'm not scared of it."

Despite Tocchet's 51-69-26 record entering Saturday since taking over last season for fired Barry Melrose, he can hang his hat on a few things, most notably the development of Steven Stamkos and Steve Downie, both of whom have flourished.

Still, Tocchet knows the bottom line is winning and losing, and the team has done a lot of the latter down the stretch, and mostly looked bad doing it.

"When you're losing you're like, 'What's going on here? What am I doing wrong?' " Tocchet said. "That's when you have to be strong in what you believe in and teach what you believe in.

"A lot of coaches did a lot of losing in their first years to get what they want. That's not a cop-out. That's reality. You still have to keep fighting and believing in yourself. You work every day and work your (rear end) off."

Asked what he learned from this season, Tocchet said, "Probably to be a little bit more decisive in a lot of things. Deal with what you believe in right away. You have to be decisive in the kind of players you want and how you're going to do things. Those are the things you really have to control as a coach."

How much control he has over his future here remains to be seen.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet doesn't fear management critique 04/10/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:14pm]
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