Late tonight, after the conclusion of the Admirals' game against the Adirondack Phantoms, the Lightning and GM Brian Lawton announced that Head Coach Darren Rumble has been relieved of his duties . Assistant Coach Jim Johnson has been named the new Head Coach and Assistant Coach Leigh Mendelson will remain with the team. Rumble departs the Admirals, officially, with a 50-61-6-5 record in one and a half seasons with the team, although he unofficially assumed the role of Head Coach midway through the 2007-2008 season. Norfolk is currently 17-23-2 this season, which is last place in the AHL's East Division and six points out of a playoff spot.
In my mind, two things contributed to Brian Lawton's decision to make a move. First, although the Lightning have promoted several players to Tampa Bay this season, Norfolk returned a very deep roster dotted with numerous NHL and AHL veterans. While it may not have been fair to expect this team to be competing with Hershey for the division title, this roster probably should be in the thick of the pack in the East Division fighting for second or third, not in last place. The second factor is that, although some prospects like Blair Jones  and Dustin Tokarski  are having excellent seasons, some of the Lightning's most prized prospects have struggled, namely Matt Lashoff  and Dana Tyrell .
To his credit, Rumble can claim to have placed several players in the NHL during his term as coach in Norfolk, including Zenon Konopka , Paul Szczechura , Mike Lundin , Steve Downie , and Matt Smaby .