TAMPA -- According to Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, it was a 3-2 Lightning victory at the Florida Panthers on March 12 that set his thought process in motion that a coaching change was needed.
"After that win, the atmosphere around the team was down," Yzerman said Tuesday, prior to the Lightning's game Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres. "We came back and played three more games and won two out of the three. Going on the road to Toronto, I had a sense that the atmosphere had changed, and watching the team play, the emotion, and trying to read the situation -- after watching the scenario play out over the last couple of weeks, the decision was made over a few days and just culminated with watching the game in Ottawa [a 5-3 Lightning loss which saw the team fall behind 4-0 in the opening period] I felt it was best for the team and I felt it was best for Guy Boucher at that point."
The Lightning announced Sunday that Boucher had been relieved of his duties, and a day later named Jon Cooper, the coach of the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, his replacement.
Cooper, the eighth full-time coach in team history, will make his debut Friday when the Lightning host the New Jersey Devils. Assistant coach Daniel Lacroix and player development coach Steve Thomas will share the coaching duties Tuesday.