One day after their season ended with the team missing the playoffs for a third straight season, the Tampa Bay Lightning
have fired General Manager Brian Lawton
and coach Rick Tocchet
The announcement was made by new owner Jeff Vinik, who took over the team March 3.
"Now that the 2009-10 Tampa Bay Lightning
season has concluded, we have decided to replace Brian and Rick," Vinik said. "Our hockey operations department needs a fresh start in order to help us fulfill our goal of being a world-class organization. I'd like to thank both Brian and Rick for their dedication and service to the Lightning.
The team announced assistant GM Tom Kurvers
will head the hockey operations department until a new GM is hired.
Vinik said that decision will be made a new chief operating officer when that person is hired.
"Our search for a chief executive officer is well underway and we are in the process of interviewing candidates," said Vinik. "After the new CEO is hired, he will hire our new general manager in time to prepare for the draft and free agency periods."
Lawton was hired as vice president of hockey operations in June 2008, and promoted to GM on Oct. 22, 2008.
Tocchet was hired July 9, 2008 as an associate coach, and was promoted to head coach just 16 games into the 2008-09 season, when he replaced Barry Melrose
. The Lightning went 53-69-26 in Tocchet's two seasons, but he played a major hand in the development of young players Steven Stamkos
and Steve Downie