It took more than a bad Canada trip, or a month of lousy hockey, for Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman to knock on Guy Boucher's Winnipeg hotel room door and give him the bad news. Yzerman's decision to fire Boucher wasn't knee jerk, done lightly or quickly. That's not him, though the result is that now he's instantly on the clock himself, one coach into his GM career. It's nearly always the GM the next time. Jon Cooper, the new coach, was at the Forum for Tuesday night's game with Buffalo. Now, or pretty soon, would seem a good time to make sweeping changes. Don't count on it. Yzerman is methodical, a patient man. So you just know something must have unraveled over time rather than overnight for him to dump Boucher. What went wrong here? It had to be philosophy — that was part of it, particularly the Bolts' 1-3-1 scheme, especially in their own end, sending two defensemen along with a forward to the puck, leaving neither D in front of the net. Boucher's buzzing system worked wonders his first season (Yzerman's first, too) and the Lightning swept to the Eastern Conference finals. But teams caught up last season, changed their game against the Bolts, found the open spaces, and the Lightning didn't always respond, at least to Yzerman's way of thinking. It's clear by what just happened that the GM decided that his coach was unwilling to adjust. Put yourself in Boucher's place. He got where he was by doing it his way on the way up, he'd never failed, and he was a smash when he first hit the NHL. Put yourself in Yzerman's place. His hockey career taught him that change is everything. He played for Scotty Bowman, the greatest pro sports coach in history, who, as granite-like as he seemed, made a career out of adapting to his team and the times, winning all sorts of ways. That's how you can flourish, that's how you survive. Yzerman had to learn about change, adjusting his game as his career went on, chafing at first under Bowman, until he became a great two-way player, and that's when he became a champion who lifted the Stanley Cup. I think that's where he partly must have been coming from when it came to Boucher, the idea that change should be part of anyone's game.
Change is part of the game for Lightning GM Yzerman
Tampa Tribune | Mar 27