The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced the hiring of former Conn-Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup winning goaltender Mike Vernon as a special assistant to Brian Lawton, the VP of Hockey Operations. Vernonâ€™s duties will be to assist in hockey-related matters and to provide guidance to the teamâ€™s goaltenders. As an assistant to Lawton, Vernon figures to be part of the "group" that Lawton indicated would be assuming much of the duties of former General Manager Jay Feaster.
â€œThe Tampa Bay Lightning are thrilled to add a former Stanley Cup Champion to our staff,â€ vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton said. â€œMikeâ€™s past experience and knowledge will be a true benefit to the organization and it will be critical to us as we continue to make changes within the team to improve it.â€
Vernon joins Robert "Cap" Raeder from the Sharks organization to the revamped Lightning staff as co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie continue to address the Bolts' highly publicized goaltending woes over the last several seasons. The St.Pete Times quoted Lightning head coach Barry Melrose as he provides some additional clues as to Vernon's role with the on-ice team. "Cap Raeder is a guy I depend on a lot for goaltenders. Heâ€™s the guy, I know what he can do and I think heâ€™ll be great working with Kolzig, Smith, and Ramo. Thatâ€™s the guy I know and trust as far as goaltenders are concerned. Mikeâ€™s role will be looked at as we go."