OK, OK, is this finally rock bottom?
I would've preferred Gerald Coleman
's debut had come under better circumstances. The Tampa Bay Lightning just blew a two goal lead and allowed themselves to be beaten by an ECHL level goaltender. That's the plain, unvarnished truth.
I have no doubt that the word of closed door players only meetings is right around the corner. There needs to be a "come to Jesus" for this team. And it's clear to me that it is no longer Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor's ship to fix. They have fulfilled their charge to nurse a bunch of kids into an NHL contender and Stanley Cup champion. Those kids are all grown up, and those kids are the ones who now need to step up and take ownership of what is happening to this team.
There are about $15 million dollars being tied up in three players on this team: Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards. We can talk about the unstable goaltending or the fact Darryl Sydor couldn't defend his way out of a wet paper sack right now, but that ignores the obvious. In all of these games where the Lightning knew going in they had a goaltender with flagging confidence or a wet behind the ears rookie between the pipes they still only managed to score a couple of goals against Atlanta, New York and Montreal. The timely goal scoring has simply not been there.
Much of the reason for that is that the Tampa Bay Lightning simply have not made the commitment in moment-of-truth situations in this six game losing streak to make the hard, dirty play. To shoot the puck and crash the net. This team is still looking for answers in tic-tac-toe plays that never work when you're struggling instead of putting on their hard hat, grabbing their lunch pail and doing what it takes to get points in crunch time.
It's time to start making that commitment again. It's time to start talking about accountability again. But the one's stepping up in those closed door meetings to talk about accountability need to be the $15M men. It's time to grow up. It's time the torch was passed. It's time that Vincent Lecavalier
no longer leads the team in zeros and the end of his check but also he leads vocally in the dark times. And no, I'm not blaming Vinny or saying he's dogging it. Quite the contrary, he's one of the few players on this team playing decent hockey right now. But he can't just sit back anymore while Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor do all the heavy lifting in the locker room. Nor can Brad Richards
. Nor can Martin St. Louis
. This is their time, and if things are going to turn around they need to make this, unequivocally, their team. Right now.
By the grace of God, this team plays in such an awful division 2 games under .500 can still find you in second place ahead of Florida. But that won't last forever. It's time to get back to work.