AHL Game Night 12/28: Bears at Admirals

Just not a fun time to be a Lightning fan right now.

HER-4
NOR-1

Jonathan Boutin allowed 4 goals on 31 shots in the loss.

First Period
HER Hunt, (4) (Motzko), 6:31 (SH)
HER MacMillan, (1) (Gordon, Robitaille), 8:06

Second Period
NOR Hrdel, (2) (Stewart, Jancevski), 14:28 (SH)

Third Period
HER McNeill, (1) (Bourque, Clymer), 4:34
HER Barney, (5) (Wilson, Clymer), 14:40

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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It's Definitely in Disarray in Norfolk

I have been following the comments here concerning Torts in Tampa and his gruff attitude may have the team tuning him out.

Well, in Norfolk, you have the polar opposite in coaching styles. Stirling stands behind the bench with his arms folded staring straight ahead and almost not speaking to the players. He doesn't jaw with the officials. He simply does nothing. And I think the players in Norfolk have tuned him out as well. He was quoted in today's Norfolk paper saying the team quit last night after getting behind. And tonight they do no better at all. And to top it all off, you have Jay "Grand Larceny Auto" Rosehill out at 1:25 in the morning the night before a game at an adult entertainment club.

We don't play physical at at all. Now I don't mean from a fighting standpoint, but putting checks on people. We lose most of the battles for the puck. Their offensive style resembled the 7 and 8 year old mite players who had a scrimmage during one of the intermissions tonight. We make the same mental blunders game after game. Nothing but one on one plays, no organization on offense. We are second in the league in shorthanded goals allowed. We don't hustle. We are lucky these days to get one period of solid play out of them. We are 4 for 53 on power plays recently. It's not a power play, it is helter skelter.

The truly sad part is there is some talent on the team. But you would never know it by watching them play. It is long past time for a change in the coaches in Norfolk. This will sound strange, but we need a Torts type here right now who will turn this team around. Bolts fans may say what's the big deal. But we are supposed to be developing players for Tampa. What we are supposed to be doing is developing good players with a good work ethic. What we are seeing developed here now, you would not want them to cross the line from Georgia into into Florida.

It's a very simple problem,

It's a very simple problem, well not simple in those terms, but simple to identify. The Lightning as an organization do an absolutely terrible job in player development at all levels. The Lightning does have young talent in their organization but is just terrible at developing them. If you had a player like Jones, Keller, or even Lascek to name a few in a better organization that really gets down to it and focuses on player development such as a Detroit or New Jersey even, you'd see different players at the AHL level or even the NHL level. There is a reason that Stirling didn't last long on Long Island and I have never thought Feaster had even 1/10th of a clue what he was doing as far as personel. Torts I have thought and still do think is a good coach. Unfortunately though that kind of hardnosed attitude only works for so long before the players get sick of it. I am praying that this sale of the franchise goes through. Oren Koules played the game, he knows the game. Hopefully he see's the problems that we, the fans, see and point out on a daily basis. I'm hoping that Koules cleans house on a complete organizational basis and brings in hockey people that can get the job done. Especially at the AHL level. Teams have shown such as Detroit or New Jersey, etc...that you need to develop your own talent to be consistantly good for years to come. We can only hope at this point.

Player Development

Well put SJR1709. I said this earlier in response to Rogers being sent down to Mississippi ... it is as timely today as it was then. (This was written before Ramo got his call up)

The Andy Rogers story is both mystifying and even sad. One has to wonder about the sequence of events that would result in a player who nearly made the Lightning two years ago drop so far down the depth chart. Certainly injuries played a part, but there has to be more to it
than that. By all accounts, Rogers seems to be a once highly-touted prospect who has lost all confidence. And, until today, playing on a team that likewise seems to have lost its confidence. Putting Rogers aside for the moment, questions arise about how the Lightning goes about
developing its prospects. It is both interesting and startling that, aside from Matt Smaby's cup of coffee in the Show, not a single Lightning pro prospect made the big club this year. Sure, Mike Lundin made the team, but he was playing college hockey last year.
Other former top prospects have nearly disappeared into oblivion(translate: ECHL.) Is it fair to say that these days prospects brought into the Lightning system are getting worse, not better? If so, what
does that say about the scouts and coaches in the system? Isn't it time for the Lightning to recognize that its future is intimately tied to the positive development of its prospects, and make the changes necessary to
insure that they have the right people in place to make that happen? In other words, is Andy Rogers merely the latest victim of a dysfunctional developmental system? Hopefully, its not too late for him to turn
things around. And, the same can be said of the Lightning.

And I'll reiterate what I

And I'll reiterate what I said then:

1.) It's not the Lightning's fault that Andy Rogers missed a season and a half worth of hockey due to injuries, just like it's not their fault Mike Egener has had injury problems or that Stan Lascek has had injury problems.

2.) Sometimes when a player doesn't develop it's on the player. Case in point: Adam Henrich. Unless there's something magic in the water in Wheeling down in the ECHL, it seems obvious to me the change in Henrich's attitude came from within, and that same change has to come from within in guys like Kvapil and Smolenak.

3.) This supposedly dysfunctional developmental system has produced 5 NHLers in the last 2-1/2 years and if you add in Lundin that's 6 NHLers the Lightning have drafted and put into the league. That's par for the course in the league.

Can it get better? Definitely. The goal ought to be to have an organization like Colorado which manages to produce goaltenders, defensemen, and top flight goal scorers seamlessly even despite being a perennial playoff team. But lets not get melodramatic and pretend that players like Karri Ramo, Paul Ranger etc etc didn't come out of the minors for us because they absolutely did.

Train wreck

Pete,
Your loyalty to the organization is admirable. But, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that the situation in Norfolk is a train wreck (or should I say a shipwreck). The same can be said of the situation last year in Springfield. And, if the Lightning aren't already there, they are perilously close to imploding. Those facts speak to an organizational problem. Yes, as in all train wrecks there are some survivors. But, what we are talking about here is a train which appears to be damaged nearly beyond repair. And, as is the case in most train wrecks, the cause appears to be operator error.

Response to tblfan:My

Response to tblfan:

My loyalty to the Lightning organization isn't blind nor has my relationship with the organization ever been a bed of roses to the point that I generally let Chad and Tim handle interactions with the organization. I had plenty of run ins with the Lightning PR staff back in the late-90's for being a "rabble rouser" who wouldn't buy Rick Dudley's BS. I'm on civil terms with them, but I don't think I'm their favorite person in the world, lets just put it that way. When I haven't liked draft picks they've made, I've criticized them. When they've made poor decisions, I've criticized them. Publicly. So lets not go down the road like I'm someone who wears rose colored glasses or who drinks Lightning front office Kool Aid.

Some of the criticisms I see flying around the internet right now are fair. Some, however, are not, and blaming the Lightning organization's developmental system for Andy Rogers' injury problems is utterly ludicrous. If you wanted to blame the scouts for not red flagging his chronic ankle problem you would have a valid point. But to blame Coach Stirling or Darren Rumble or anyone else in Springfield/Norfolk? That's asinine. The kid missed something like 80-100 hockey games at a critical juncture of his development between age 19 and age 20. What do you want Stirling and Rumble to do? Pull the flux capacitor out of the janitor's closet at The Scope and go back in time to when Andy was a youngster and first developed the problem? It's not a fair criticism.

When things go wrong it's the easiest thing in the world to pull back to a wide angle and just start saying "Fire the GM", "Fire the coach", "Fire the scouts", "It's the owner's fault" etc etc. Solutions are almost never that simple though, in any profession or any walk of life and if this website stands for anything, it's for pursuing the kind of deeper analysis from which real knowledge with real utility in real world situations springs. And that means looking at things in a more thoughtful, detailed way, not simply painting everything over with a giant paintbrush.

Right now, it's clear we have a problem. The symptoms are everywhere, but now we need to go deeper and diagnose exactly what the causes are. The dumbest thing that could be done right now is if the cure kills the patient and we throw out a highly successful coach or a highly successful front office or flush everyone out of the developmental apparatus rashly without making a calm, clear, inciteful evaluation first.

We will just have to disagree

Pete - We will just have to disagree about Rogers. Injuries aside ... when good players stop developing, and in fact get worse, we have a problem (and there are a lot of good players on this team who are not developing). Ramo is an exception. Mike Lundin did not develop in Tampa's system - he developed in college. He wasn't even on Tampa's radar - he was slotted for Norfolk or Mississippi. Ranger played one year and a game in Springfield - he was not a product of Stirling's coaching.

You say "right now, it's clear we have a problem". I'm glad you can acknowledge it - although we have had a problem for a while now. And, I agree "the symptoms are everywhere" - top to bottom. You also say "The dumbest thing that could be done right now is if the cure kills the patient and we throw out a highly successful coach" - please don't tell me you are talking about Steve Stirling? If so, I think you really need to take the blinders off. Now, if you are talking about Torts - I agree.

Please don't confuse my posts with the "Fire the GM, Fire the Coaches, Fire Them All" rants. I agree, there needs to be a thoughtful response to this train wreck. But, something has to be done sooner, rather than later. These young men are Tampa's future and they are dying out there.

The last couple of years is one thing...

Pete, you point out the last couple of years, but look at the teams overall history and you will see one of the worst in the league when it comes to drafting and developing players.

In over a decades worth of drafting, this team has averaged one player every draft that has had any sort of effect in the NHL. Only a handful of those have had a "meaningful" impact in the league.

I realize that the same management group has not been here since the beginning, but it is still a ridiculously bad record as far as drafting and developing players is concerned.

Response to CROMAG: CROMAG,

Response to CROMAG:

CROMAG, you KNOW what you're saying isn't fair though.

It isn't the current Lightning organization's fault that up until they sold the team Kokusai wouldn't spend a nickle on scouting or that this team didn't have a stable affiliation under Kokusai after the Atlanta Knights pulled up stakes and moved to Quebec.

You also know it also isn't the current Lightning organization's fault that Rick Dudley's tenure as "Yoda, master of the draft" as Brian Burke once put it included a bevy of failed, mostly European and specifically Russian, draft picks. Is it Feaster or Stirling's fault that Rick Dudley essentially wasted top ten picks on players like Nikita Alexeev and Alex Svitov?

It's only fair to evaluate Feaster based on the drafts from 2002 forward, and it's only really fair to evaluate the developmental apparatus based on players produced since we finally got a full affiliation agreement again in 2004-2005. So if you want to criticize certain draft picks within that time period, or pin their lack of development during that period on the powers that were/are in Springfield/Norfolk that's fine. That's a fair argument. Just like it's perfectly fair and valid for me to come right back and point out Paul Ranger, Karri Ramo, etc etc.

It's not fair, however, to tie the current staff to the one that decided to make Mario Larqocque a first round pick (for instance).

Also, as an aside, given the budgetary constraints that were placed on them and the lack of a full affiliation in which they could develop players, I would also defend the Espo era scouts for being better than they've been given credit for. But that's a different argument for a different time.

Fire the Coach for Heaven's sake!

It all starts at the top. Tortarella has done a terrible job of developing continuity and using his players in a consistent manor. The Lightning have a caste system: the stars and the others. Tort's has established this and maintains it... He placates the stars to keep his job. What do you think Jones had to say to his comrades in Norfolk upon his return? What a joke? I missed a play in my 49 seconds and got benched? What hope are we instilling for the young players? Hockey is an emotional/team sport. Under the right environment a young player can get caught up in the enthusiasm, and make a difference. I haven't seen a Lightning team in such disarray since the early 2's.

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