On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning hired former Anaheim assistant coach Brad Lauer to fill the same role with the Bolts. Lauer replaces George Gwozdecky, who left after the 2014-15 season to pursue other opportunities, on the Lightning coaching staff. Lauer took a few moments out of his day to speak to TampaBayLightning.com about his new position, shifting from the West to the East Coast and what it’s like to join a reigning Cup finalist.
Congratulations on the position and joining the organization, Brad. What will be your primary role as an assistant with the Lightning?
“I talked to (head coach) Jon (Cooper) and (GM) Steve (Yzerman) about what they’re looking for, and they’re looking for another guy to help along with the staff they have to work with guys on a day-to-day basis, doing extra things with the young guys, filling in and helping out with some power-play stuff that Jon has done with the group there. Nothing has been ironed out 100 percent but just kind of the little things of the game.”
What do you feel is your strength as a coach, and what do you feel you can add to a team coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance?
“One, I think, getting along with the players, the relationship with the players and the x’s and o’s. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some very good coaches in my career. I think the x’s and o’s part of the game is one of my best assets, whether it’s from video or just the finer details of the game that maybe sometimes get overlooked from some guys.”
What enticed you to come to Tampa Bay?
“Obviously, they’re well-respected in the National Hockey League as one of the elite teams, not only elite but a young, elite team with the players they have, the ownership group, the management group and the coaches they have. Going to the Stanley Cup Final, I watched all their games. I watched them play all year. They play an exciting style of game. They’re a fast team. They play an up-beat game that’s very enjoyable to watch. Coaching against them, they’re very tough to coach against with the speed they have. I’m very fortunate, very excited to be able to join a great group of coaches and work with the players they have.
How far do you think this Lightning team can go in 2015-16?
“The biggest thing is not to get complacent. I think every day is a day when you come to the office to work. It’s a work day. You’ve got to put the time in. You’ve got to be ready to work every day if you want to be one of those elite teams. Every team in the National Hockey League, if you look this summer, has gotten themselves better. A lot of the reason why teams are getting better is because what you see in the Stanley Cup Final, everyone sees what teams have to do to go to the Final and they want to kind of copycat that. It’s going to be a year where you can’t be complacent on what you did last season. You’ve got to be ready to go back to work and get better each and every day.”
Are you an East Coast or West Coast guy?
“I spent some time in Ottawa when I first broke into the National Hockey League with the Senators. I’ve been out in California on the West Coast for four years, obviously a little more familiar with the players and the guys on this side. One thing about being on the West Coast, you get 4 o’clock East Coast games in the afternoon, so we’ve been able to watch and follow a lot of teams that way.”