Despite their firepower up front -- which included a 51-goal season from Steven Stamkos
-- the Tampa Bay Lightning
failed to qualify for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, missing the dance by eight points. There was a housecleaning in the front office, as Steve Yzerman
was brought in as GM to right the ship.
Halfway through the 2010-11 season, Yzerman's first hire is NHL.com's choice to win the Jack Adams
Trophy as the NHL's Coach of the Year.
Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning
-- Boucher, who never coached an NHL game prior to this season, has quickly turned the Lightning around and has the club in second place in the Eastern Conference. Indeed, 50 percent of the regular season is gone, and Boucher's Lightning are a point ahead of the Washington Capitals
in the Southeast Division. Tampa Bay finished 41 points behind the Caps a season ago.
"I think there were expectations this year, but the last two years were pretty tough," Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier
said. "With Guy Boucher
coming in, I think everybody believed right away that we could do well with the new system. Everything on the ice was very different, but you could tell right away everyone was going in the same direction and everybody is doing the right thing and we've had some success."
Craig Ramsay, Atlanta Thrashers
-- Much like the Lightning, the Thrashers cleaned house during the offseason, hiring Rick Dudley as GM and the soon-to-be 60-year-old Ramsay as coach. So far, the moves are paying dividends.
Atlanta, which also missed the playoffs last season, is currently in postseason to qualify in 2011. Despite several new faces -- including Stanley Cup winners Dustin Byfuglien
and Andrew Ladd
-- Ramsay has all of his players on the same page, evidenced by the fact that the Thrashers entered Saturday's action just two points behind Washington and three back of Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division.
"We reshaped the Thrashers over the last year with a new, aggressive, gritty style of hockey, and we are proud of Coach Ramsay and our young team which is receiving recognition throughout the NHL for their success on the ice," owners Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon recently said in a letter to the fans.
Marc Crawford, Dallas Stars
-- Who would have thought a team that finished 12th in the Western Conference a season ago would be atop the Pacific Division halfway through 2010-11?
That is the case in Dallas, which was dynamite through the first half of the season both at home and on the road. Twelve of the team's first 24 victories this season have come in buildings not named American Airlines Center.
"We've got a good record overall this year. It's more a case of us playing a good brand of hockey," Crawford said. "We've played in a lot of tight games this year, but we've been more intelligent in how we played. That's allowed us to stick around and when you stick around, you give yourself an opportunity."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL