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The Tampa Bay Lightning have named Tod Leiweke their new CEO, according to a release by the team on Monday. Leiweke leaves the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, where he held the same position.
You could have asked our Lightning blog, Raw Charge, about this potential hiring months ago and they really wouldn't have been all that shocked. Here's what Cassie McLellan wrote back in late April:
The only facts - actual facts - that we have so far are that the Detroit Red Wings have granted the Lightning permission to talk to Steve Yzerman, Dave Nonis said that he’d been approached and instead took the Toronto Maple Leafs offer, and that Tod Leiweke has acknowledged that there’s a great opportunity there with the Lightning but that he's happy where he's at. There was nothing about Leiweke being interviewed about the CEO position, or him even being approached to discuss it, despite the fact that the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL made a statement about how there’s no truth to the rumors.
Throughout this whole process, the only names that haven’t gone away are Yzerman and Leiweke – and both were mentioned at the very beginning.
Who knows how things will turn out in the end, of course, but I believe that Vinik is holding out for who he wants: Leiweke as CEO, and Yzerman as GM. For all we know, perhaps one is contingent upon the other. Leiweke might take the CEO job only if Yzerman is willing to be GM, or vice versa. It's hard to say how any potential negotiations are going, after all.
Leiweke has NHL experience. He's been involved in the Canucks front office and he served as the first president in the history of the Minnesota Wild.
The Lightning officially named Guy Boucher their head coach on Thursday morning. Here's the team press release:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to terms with Guy Boucher (pronounced GEE boo-SHAY) today to become the seventh head coach in the organization's history, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Boucher joins the Lightning after coaching the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League to 52 wins and 115 points in the 2009-10 regular season.
"We are thrilled that Guy has elected to further his coaching career with the Tampa Bay Lightning," Yzerman said in making the announcement. "He is one of the best young coaches in the game today and I believe he is the perfect selection for our team as we look to create a winning environment and re-establish the Lightning in the National Hockey League."
Boucher, 38, becomes the youngest coach in the NHL after quickly building a track record of success in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and the AHL. In addition to winning the AHL’s North Division Championship for 2009-10, Boucher’s Bulldogs team allowed just 182 goals during the 80-game regular season, the lowest total in the league. Its 271 goals scored marked the league’s third highest total. He was honored with the AHL’s Louis A. R. Pieri Award as its Coach of the Year.
"I am flattered to have the opportunity to coach in the National Hockey League, especially for the Lightning," Boucher said upon accepting the position with the Lightning. "Steve Yzerman and the new ownership are turning things around in Tampa Bay and I am pleased they chose me to be a part of the process."
Boucher was named head coach of the Bulldogs for the 2009-10 season after leading the Drummondville Voltigeurs for three seasons. Boucher led Drummondville to QMJHL regular season and playoff championships and a berth in the Memorial Cup in 2008-09. That Voltigeurs team set franchise records with 54 wins and 112 points. He was also awarded the Paul Dumont Trophy as the QMJHL’s Personality of the Year for 2008-09.
Boucher also has extensive experience working for Hockey Canada, most recently serving as an assistant coach under Pat Quinn on the Gold Medal-winning team for the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championship. He was an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team program three times, also helping that team to the Gold Medal in 2008.
A native of Notre-Dame-du-Lac in Quebec, Canada, Boucher is graduate of Montreal’s McGill University where he starred with the Redmen from 1991-95. Boucher also has a unique resume for an NHL coach, with educational studies in four different fields – sports psychology, biosystems engineering, environmental biology and history.
Earlier in the day on Monday, it appeared that the Columbus Blue Jackets were prepared to name Guy Boucher their next head coach. But after Boucher, who carried the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs to a 52-17 record this past season as their bench boss, turned down the Jackets, it became clear that he would be headed south instead.
Yep, Boucher will be headed to Tampa, where it seems new general manager Steve Yzerman has made his first hire. Quebec-based, French-language online daily Rue Frontenac first broke details of the story. The site reports that Boucher is expected to bring his entire coaching staff with him from Hamilton, where he just finished up his first year as a head coach in the professional ranks.
As the quote suggests, Boucher had turned down the Columbus Blue Jacket earlier in the day. This had been after reports surfaced that Boucher had been offered the job on Friday (6-05). There had been speculation -- wild at that on Twitter -- that Steve Yzerman had grabbed his ear.
And the most common thread of thought that is being pointed out right now (via twitter chatter) is looking at team captain Vincent Lecavalier and wondering if Boucher can light his fire?
It's expected that the team will finalize the hiring of Boucher on Tuesday.
For more on the Lightning, visit Raw Charge.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have called a news conference at 3 PM Eastern on Tuesday, where they will announce that hockey legend Steve Yzerman has been named the team's sixth general manager. The news comes via the AP.
Yzerman has never been a general manager in the NHL before, but he has held a position in the front office of the Detroit Red Wings and was in charge of putting together Canada's 2010 gold medal Olympic team.
Our Lightning blog, Raw Charge, which has been all over this story since things hit the fan months ago with the firings of former GM Brian Lawton and former coach Rick Tocchet, looks at the long road that new owner Jeff Vinik has taken to reach today.
Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings legend, will become the Tampa Bay Lightning's sixth general manager this afternoon, replacing dismissed GM Brian Lawton and following in the footsteps of former GM's Jay Feaster, Rick Dudley, Jacques Demers and Phil Esposito.
We've been waiting, waiting, waiting... And early this morning a news release from the Lightning announced the scheduling of a press conference for this morning. Various reports have also come out, and Jeff Vinik's wish silence can no longer be kept in check.
Of course, at this point, it's a hell of a marketing tool, as the hriing is not only a huge name -- but there is huge hype around someone finally filling the position.
For more on the news as it develops, be sure to stick with Raw Charge.
A report has confirmed that NBC/TSN analyst Pierre McGuire is in the running for the Tampa Bay Lightning's open general manager position. According to John Boruk of CSN Philadelphia, McGuire has interviewed twice for the job.
A year ago, McGuire was reportedly in the running to become the next general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Here's what Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer Michael Russo had to say at the time.
McGuire is an intriguing choice and would be following the blueprint set by St. Louis (John Davidson) and Chicago (Dale Tallon), which took men from the broadcast booth to run their franchises.
Since 1995, he has been in the broadcast booth and is considered one of the most passionate, well-spoken broadcasters in the NHL. He has friends everywhere entrenched in teams and has seen more NHL players and prospects close up than most team personnel have.
McGuire's NHL experience is in scouting and coaching. He was a scout with the Ottawa Senators in the mid-90s after a stint as head coach with the Hartford Whalers. Prior to that, he won two Stanley Cups as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He's a polarizing character in the broadcast booth (or, more often, between the benches at ice level). Many find his character on television to be obnoxious, but others certainly appreciate his knowledge of the game and his excitement level. He has plenty of contacts in the hockey world as well, which may be the single most important asset a team GM can have.
One thing is for sure, though. If he gets the job as general manager in Tampa Bay, his first order of business will be to call up goaltender Dustin Tokarski, a young goaltending prospect in the organization with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals. The two have a history...
Fresh off last night's whirlwind of rumors regarding the Lightning executive search comes a denial of TSN's report that Tod Leiweke, CEO of Vulcan Sports and the Seattle Seahawks/Sounders FC, is Candidate One for the role of Lightning CEO.
Of course, from a fan perspective, the focus is on the news that the Bolts have requested permission from the Red Wings (and received it) to talk to Steve Yzerman about the GM job... But the fact remains a GM isn't going to be hired before a CEO is in place (or so Jeff Vinik had declared previously).
TSN's Darren Dreger reported today that the candidates for the Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager position have come down to a short list of possible candidates, including Detroit Red Wings Vice President Steve Yzerman. From TSN:
Sources say the Red Wings have granted permission for Tampa Bay to speak with Yzerman, currently a vice president in Detroit.
Yzerman won't comment on the possibility, although his interest in making the move now may be amplified by the fact Detroit will soon announce Ken Holland's contract extension as executive vice president and general manager.
For more on this situation, please visit our Lightning site Raw Charge.
Hockey Wilderness, SB Nation's Minnesota Wild blog, sent a friendly message to fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday morning. According to Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times, former Wild GM Doug Risebrough is "very interested" in the Lightning general manager position, but Tampa fans should be wary.
Trades? You want to talk about trades? I'm having a Jim Mora / Alan Iverson moment here. TRADES?
The man traded for CHRIS SIMON! Chris freaking Simon. He traded away draft picks to move up in the late first round. Because as we all know, when you pick late in a round, the difference in talent between one guy and another is huge, right?
He shipped out vets to bring in prospects? When? When did he one time trade a vet to add a prospect? Stephane Villeaux is an energy guy. He was the original Clutterbuck for the Wild. Sure, you need those guys, but I don't know that they earn the GM high praise for bringing them into the system. Willie Mitchell served his purpose, but he is a defensive defenseman. Dime a dozen, in my opinion.
The only trade he ever made that even made marginal sense was trading for Pavol Demitra, and even that blew up in his face.
Let's imagine, as Jones suggests, what [Risebrough] could do with a team that already has Stamkos, Vinny, and St. Louis on the roster. The imagination leaps at the opportunity. He could trade Vinny to the Habs for Pouliot, or even to the Wild for James Sheppard. St. Louis is a UFA after this coming season, [Risebrough] would certainly let him walk for no return. Stamkos is an RFA after next season, meaning that [Risebrough] could offer him an insulting contract and cause a holdout. The Bolts pick 6th in the upcoming draft. Certainly they can move up at the small price of every draft pick for the next five years.
It takes little imagination to come up with how many different ways this team could suffer at the hands of [Risebrough].
In the aftermath of the firings of Rick Tocchet and Brian Lawton, members of the media have speculated on who will fill the vacant positions in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. According to SBN's Raw Charge, this speculation is irresponsible.
In what has come to light with Vinik as a businessman, the way he operates is in stealth, not in the public sphere. Certainly not for fodder of the likes of The Hockey News' Ken Campbell - who has written large amounts of dime-store quality fiction regarding Vinik's intentions with the Tampa Bay Lightning--particularly members of the Lightning roster.
And now that the general manager and head coaching jobs are open for new applicants, the same kind of speculation - drawing conclusions or just fictitious speculation - has been running around since last Monday when the axe fell on Rick Tocchet and Brian Lawton. We've made it a point to remind readers that there would be no GM hiring before a CEO was put into place for the Bolts, but that has not stopped the likes of Steve Russo in Minnesota and other sources from reporting of Doug Risebrough's imminent hiring as general manager of the Bolts.
And the truth is... It is people speaking without hearing, and people hearing without listening. It's chatter that's just not there.
New Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has made his presence felt already in town, swiftly firing coach Rick Tocchet and general manager Brian Lawton at season's end. Will Vinik have a positive impact on the franchise, or is he just another 'caretaker?'
All of this is supposed to take place well before the NHL Entry Draft in June. Supposedly, the CEO will be hired within the next couple of weeks. Right now, they’re looking over resumes and interviewing candidates for a CEO. It'll be interesting to see how long it will take for a GM to be hired after that and if they'll be prepared for the draft.
Vinik is looking for the team to be a contender as soon as next season. Which is probably a good thing, since Martin St. Louis has recently said that he might ask for a trade if things don’t look up this summer. The phrase that Vinik uses often is "world class". Not only is he looking to make the Lightning into a legitimate threat, but he appears to be interested in making the brand better known overall.
Even though ownership says the Bolts won't hire a new general manager until a CEO is in place, that is not stopping the media from speculating on who will become the next general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And the truth is that the Bolts need to get things in order by late June in time to prepare for the draft and NHL free agency. To go into either event with a makeshift front office could spell disaster for the Lightning off-season.
Names like Dave Nonis, Steve Yzerman, and even former Lightning GM Jay Feaster have their names in the mix. More names will come to light in the coming days and weeks - especially after a CEO is penciled in.
As of right now, Oren Koules controls the Tampa Bay Lightning after co-owner Len Barrie could not buy out partner. CBC Sports' Elliotte Freedman is reporting that Koules has until November 23rd to buy out Barrie's share and take full control of the Lightning.
Koules, who played three seasons of junior hockey in the WHL, now has until Nov. 23 to put together a package of his own.
He is now working with one potential partner, a real estate investor named Jeff Greene.
As if the Lightning's ownership situation wasn't strange enough, The St. Petersburg Times reported earlier this month that Mike Tyson was the best man at Greene's wedding.
The NHL would be happy for this situation to happen quietly with the bankruptcy problems in Phoenix and issues with the sale in Florida that have happened this summer. While the Lightning have less fan issues, the Canadian media is going to jump on any southern hockey market that has ownership issues and state that the team should not be there in the first place.
We officially have our first casualties of the 2010 NHL off season.
New Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has "decided to replace" team general manager Brian Lawton and head coach Rick Tocchet, as he announced in a letter to fans on Monday morning, the first official day of Tampa's off season. Vinik called the hiring process for a new coach and GM "exciting," and that he hopes to have it complete by the NHL Draft in late June.
The writing had been on the wall that Lawton may not be back for a while, so that should not be surprising. Neither should Tocchet's dismissal. You see, while everyone can mention the great work he's had done with Steve Downie and Steven Stamkos, there are 21 other roster spots with players. Can we honestly say anyone improved under Tocchet? That the defense improved after a revamp from last season? That he effectively used what he had at his disposal in a consistent fashion?
As Vinik himself said in the quoted text from his letter, the search is now on for a new GM and head coach. We move forward. Who is available in each of these empty slots and what they bring to the team will ultimately guide the direction of the franchise - on ice and off - for the foreseeable future.
We'll obviously have more on this story as it unfolds.
New Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik spoke with Paul Kennedy of Sun Sports on Friday.
Here’s the video, courtesy of the team and passed along via SBN’s Raw Charge:
Vinik is also establishing Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. There was no further information presented besides the name. If it’s simply the formal moniker for Lightning ownership, so be it…
But the question for Lightning fans right now is, where do we go from here?
I’m not talking about the on-ice product but the overall franchise in general. The immediate questions are not line-combos and player signings and transactions, but the direction of operations of one of the top venues in the world (St. Pete Times Forum), operations of the front office and event staff, all the logistical stuff that most do not take into account.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that Jeff Vinik has officially purchased the club.
Via a team press release:
Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment LLC, which is owned by Jeff Vinik and a related family entity, has executed an agreement to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League from its current owners, the club announced today. The sale includes the Lightning hockey team, the company which operates the St. Pete Times Forum, and two parcels of adjacent land. Vinik will be the Chairman and sole person controlling Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment. The ownership transfer of the Lightning is subject to approval by the National Hockey League Board of Governors.
"Buying the Lightning and joining the Tampa Bay community is a dream come true," Vinik said. "I’ve been an avid hockey fan my whole life and I pledge to our fans that I will work my hardest to build the Lightning into a world class organization both on and off the ice. I hope to bring a high level of excitement and intensity back to Lightning hockey, with a goal of having the team consistently compete for the Stanley Cup. I have a passion for the game and will do my best to restore a winning culture at the St. Pete Times Forum that all of our fans and partners can be proud of."
If Jeff Vinik's purchase of the Tampa Bay Lightning goes through, super star forward Vincent Lecavalier could be headed out of town. Vinik reportedly believes that he would need to shed Lecavalier's $85 million contract to make the organization practical.
That's totally understandable, especially when you consider the fact that he's under contract until 2020. Yes, 2020. The real nugget though, is that the Lightning could potentially trade Lecavalier before Vinik's purchase is even complete.
It’s believed that if the deal is made, it will be done before Vinik takes over the team so the new owner can be insulated from the inevitable backlash that would come from dealing the franchise player.
John Fontana over at SB Nation's Lightning blog, Raw Charge, isn't too keen on this idea. As he chronicled on his site the other day, it reeks of a similar situation that Bolts fans suffered through back in the late 90s.
This kind of twisted logic -- make the player movement for the numbers to work in a sale -- reminds me of another episode in the Lightning's past. Long-time Lightning fans might recall the tale of the the Maloof family.
They were a safe bet for approval from the NHL as owners in 1997, even with their casino ties. Japanese ownership was desperate to rid themselves of the team, and the Maloofs looked like willing sale partners...
The Maloofs started having a say in team interests and actions, and what did they do to the Bolts? They influenced the course of the 1997 off-season (the draft and the direction of the team in free agency) which led directly to the Lightning's on-ice product falling on hard times for the next five seasons.
And you know what was the worst part of it? They didn't even buy the Lightning. They walked away and left the ruins of their fickle intentions for others to deal with, and for the fans to suffer.
Vinik may not walk in, have his way with things and then not even purchase the team like the Maloofs did. But it does appear that he will lower the payroll of the team, which would of course drastically effect their chances at icing a successful hockey team.
The Lightning were most successful revenue-wise in 2004 when they won the Stanley Cup, and it's obvious that wins lead to fans and fans lead to dollars, especially in a market like Tampa. Because of that, the franchise may suffer as a consequence of the very actions that Vinik hopes will make them successful.
After a carousel of horrors where Tampa Bay Lightning co-owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules went back and forth trying to buy one another out ultimately turned into nothing, it appears the ownership group is getting ready to complete the sale of the team to Boston-based hedgefund manager Jeff Vinik.
Meetings that went through Monday and into Tuesday morning at the NHL offices in New York apparently have brought Boston hedgefund manager Jeff Vinik much closer to buying the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Details are sketchy, and it was unclear how much more work has to be done. But Lightning co-owner Oren Koules apparently attended the meetings and at least representatives for co-owner Len Barrie and Vinik.
The deal would include the team, the St. Pete Times Forum lease and 5-1/2 acres around the arena.
Vinik is also a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox.
On the heels of the circus that has surrounded the Phoenix Coyotes ownership the past few months, the Tampa Bay Lightning are having their own front office issues. While it was first reported that Oren Koules had taken full control of the team over Len Barrie, SBN website Raw Charge has some clarification on what exactly is going down in Florida:
And Koules is letting this continue to play out, waiving the 60-day buyout period stuff from a report this morning from the St. Petersburg Times.
"Len Barrie said he gave up his exclusive window to try to buy the Lightning in late August, a month before it was to expire.
"Barrie also confirmed that co-owner Oren Koules, who technically is in his own exclusive buy period and within his rights to shut down any Barrie effort, is allowing St. Louis real estate developer Anthony Sansone Jr. to continue trying to put together a deal that would keep Barrie as a minority owner."
First off, this report verifies that Barrie had given up his window of opportunity to buy out Oren Koules in August -- a report by the Globe and Mail had suggested as much, but was contradicted at the time of publication by the revelation of Sansone Jr. exploring ownership potential with Barrie.
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