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Tampa Bay Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Postscript of a shakeup

It was a tumultuous week for the Lightning. Assistant coach Wes Walz was fired after he declined to take over as head coach of AHL Norfolk. Jim Johnson, who was coaching the Admirals, was elevated to Tampa Bay assistant. Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet stewed because he said he was not consulted before the moves. And by the way, the team returned from the Olympic break to prepare for Tuesday's game with the Flyers. Here are a few snapshots:

Family values

Walz said his main reason for turning down the Norfolk job was he did not want to uproot his family for an uncertain situation. The Lightning is getting a new owner, who might want changes. And the five-year contract between Tampa Bay and the Admirals is in its third year, meaning either side can opt out after the season.

"I made it clear to them. The timing, the situation with my family, the age of my kids, it just doesn't make sense for me to go there now," Walz said. "Do I have aspirations to be a head coach or an assistant down the road? Of course, but the situation has to make sense."

Walz, who had another year left on his three-year deal, said he was called into general manager Brian Lawton's office at 12:15 Tuesday and "wasn't given much of a choice. Things happened quickly. I wasn't given a reason why."

Walz praised Tocchet, his friend: "I played over 1,000 games all over the world, and this guy is a hell of a coach. I've never seen a guy spend so much time on the ice trying to make guys better."

Understanding owner

Though Johnson led Norfolk to a 13-2-2 record after he was elevated from associate coach when Darren Rumble was fired, Admirals owner Ken Young said he understood why the Lightning made the move.

"I think if (Lawton) thinks that's the best thing to get his team to the playoffs, you have to do what he thinks is the best thing," Young, left, said. "I guess someone can ask, 'With the Admirals playing so well, did that need to happen now?' But you come down to crunch time and fighting for a playoff spot, you've got to do what's the best thing you have to do."

Considering Norfolk has been out of the playoffs for two years, Young, who lives in Lutz, was pretty levelheaded.

"It really is the way I feel," he said. "I understand hard-core fans who may not feel that way. But I've been around the minor leagues 18 years in ownership, and I look at (the Lightning) and say, 'I think I understand it a little bit.' "

Quote to note

"You want to have a bunker mentality. … Anything outside the dressing room doesn't matter to us now. That's the attitude for us the next 21 games. If we're going to go anywhere, we have to have that attitude on the ice."

— Lightning coach Rick Tocchet

Tampa Bay Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Postscript of a shakeup 02/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 27, 2010 9:52pm]

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