Nearly three weeks ago the Tampa Bay Lightning named Steve Yzerman as the team’s new General Manager, a time at which the former Detroit Red Wing and four-time Stanley Cup champion affirmed his desire to have a head coach in place, possibly prior to the National Hockey League Draft on June 25, but certainly before the start of the free agency period on July 1.
On Thursday, at a press conference at the St. Pete Times Forum, the 10-time All Star fulfilled his wish by naming Guy Boucher (pronounced GEE boo-SHAY) as the seventh head coach in the history of the Lightning franchise.
“I wanted to bring in a strong leader, someone who has been successful,” Yzerman said as he addressed the media and Tampa Bay Lightning employees at the press conference.
It appears Yzerman has found just that.
Boucher, who at 38 years old becomes the youngest coach in the NHL, but led the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs to an impressive 52-17-11 record this past season, credited Yzerman’s values as the main draw and what ultimately proved to be the most appealing factor in accepting the head coaching position.
“Obviously everyone knows the reputation of Mr. Yzerman,” Boucher said. “It all starts with his values and from my very first meeting with Steve, I was impressed. I felt right in sync with how he wanted to build a winning culture.”
Boucher admitted that both he and Yzerman, although equally excited about their new opportunities, are not looking to instill a quick fix. In fact, reiterating what Yzerman had said three weeks ago upon his hire as the General Manager, Boucher emphasized that building a winning culture is a process. In order to bring that same culture of excitement back to the organization, Boucher stressed that it is necessary to believe in the players that form the team, and then in turn, allow them to believe in the head coach and the system in which he implements.
“I don’t want guys who work hard,” Boucher added. “I want guys who are relentless and guys who aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone.”
Boucher, also known to be a tremendous communicator with his players, asserted that the tools he has used in the past to be successful will be utilized here in Tampa Bay.
“The generation of players now is different,” the Lightning head coach said. “My role as a coach extends far beyond telling them what to do. It is important for them to understand why they are doing certain things, what is in it for them. Most of all, it’s about caring for your players.”
Boucher’s no-nonsense approach, paired with his ability and willingness to adapt to a different style of hockey, to different players, and to do so with a welcoming sense of embracement, all served as additional criteria worthy of Yzerman’s praise.
“I had no reservations about Guy,” Yzerman said. “I talked to colleagues, to mentors, to other professionals around the league, and I have no doubt that Guy Boucher is ready to coach in the NHL.”