I will be honest and say that with the way the Tampa Bay Lightning had been going for the last two months, I thought coach Guy Boucher's days might be numbered, but I actually didn't think he would get fired until this summer. I thought Tampa Bay wouldn't do it during the regular season because the team is just six points out of a playoff spot right now but general manager Steve Yzerman must have felt Boucher had lost the team, because making a move like this with 18 games left in the season is somewhat unusual.
The reason I think this happened now is that Yzerman is trying to get a bump from his team. The Lightning have lost three games in a row, they gave up four goals in the first period Saturday night in Ottawa and they just haven't been playing well for a while. But they're also just six points out, and that's not a margin that's insurmountable. Sometimes when you fire a coach the players respond and rattle off five or six wins in a row. With the shortened season, we're basically in the middle of the playoffs anyway. Making this move allows Yzerman to appease the fans by doing something, it could potentially give the Lightning that bump they need to make the playoffs and perhaps most importantly, it makes Yzerman a proactive general manager. He's making it clear that losing and the potential of missing the playoffs for a second straight season is not acceptable.
I'm a lucky man because of when my playing career took place. I was in the NHL from 1979 until 1986, which meant I got to see all those new buildings, but I also got to play in some of the classic older buildings right as the architecture of arenas was changing.
The new arenas are gorgeous. They're much more luxurious. But they're all the same. They all hold 20,000 people, they all have private boxes, the ice is exactly the same, the lighting is exactly the same, the concourses are exactly the same. There's no uniqueness -- Philly is L.A. is Chicago is Pittsburgh. They're all beautiful buildings, but they don't have the character and the uniqueness of the old ones.
That's why the old ones are the ones that really have a place in my heart. These are my five favorite legendary arenas of all time.
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I challenged him to a goalie fight when we chatted before the game, but he didn't want to go. It was strange to see him at the other end of the ice, but I'm sure he felt the same way looking down at our end.