In an April 14 article by Mike Mastovich of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat , Johnstown Chiefs President Jim Weber promised that changes are coming.
â€œLast year we went farther in the playoffs and Iâ€™m not happy that we took a step back,â€ Weber told the paper. â€œI gave this system two years. Iâ€™m starting a reassessment process, everything from top to bottom. Iâ€™m going to take into consideration some things the fans said and things people in the hockey operation said. In the end, Iâ€™m going to take full responsibility for doing what is right for the entertainment factor for the fans as well as the on-ice product.â€
Mastovich notes the Lightning handled personnel moves during a 33-33-6 fifth-place season and â€œitâ€™s no secret that without Tampa Bay assigning the majority of the players and offsetting many expenses associated with hockey operations, this team would be history in Johnstown.â€
He also states that the constant player movement between Johnstown and Springfield was detrimental to the team, leaving them embarrassingly short on players some nights, and fans â€œfrequently complained they were bored watching players attempt to execute [Tampa Bayâ€™s] system.â€
Head Coach Frank Anzalone told the newspaper fans should be proud of Chiefs players this year despite the teamâ€™s first round exit. However, he also stated: â€œYeah, everybody wants to quote-unquote go deep in the playoffs and win Kelly Cups. But you have to have a team built for that. This organization is built to develop hockey players.â€
Mastovich reports the Lightning hired Anzalone prior to the 2005-06 season and he has another year remaining on his contract. â€œBut Weberâ€™s comments might indicate that Anzaloneâ€™s status is uncertain despite his taking the Chiefs to two straight playoff appearances, including a two-game sweep over Trenton a year ago.â€
â€œI have no desire to operate in the status quo and do the same things,â€ Weber told the paper. â€œIâ€™m looking for better results. Iâ€™ve talked to the people in Tampa and theyâ€™re willing to embark on an effort where weâ€™re going to be able to improve our product on the ice and improve our fan experience. Iâ€™m as unhappy as many of our fans about some of the things that have gone on during the past two years. I donâ€™t want to expand on that. Expect changes, because if you do the same thing, youâ€™re going to get the same result.â€
For the full article, please see the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat .