By Mike Harrington
TAMPA, Fla. -- No, Lindy Ruff is not in the building. At least not yet as far as anyone knows. All is pretty quiet around Lightning Land because the team -- and General Manager Steve Yzerman -- was on a 10 a.m. flight back from Winnipeg and is not scheduled to practice today in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
But folks who cover the Lightning are on high alert for some decision about the team's coaching situation today. Yzerman could hire Ruff or AHL coach Jon Cooper or simply stick with assistants Dan Lacroix, Martin Raymond and Steve Thomas running the bench like they did for Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Jets. You wonder if that might happen for tomorrow since the next game isn't until New Jersey is here Friday and that would give a new coach some practice time.
The Sabres, of course, have their curiosity piqued about potentially seeing Ruff tomorrow. Among the thoughts during a quick circle of the locker room after practice today:
Jason Pominville: "I hope he gets a job and get back in coaching soon. We know he wants to be behind the bench. Hopefully he makes the best decision for him and his family when he does get asked. We know he'll be back soon. I'm not even worried about that -- but it would be kind of weird to see him tomorrow."
Thomas Vanek: "It would make for a great story. Obviously we heard it too. It would be strange for sure. It if happens tomorrow, it will be strange. If it happens next year, it's still going to be a weird feeling."
Christian Ehrhoff: "We know that the first opportunity that a coach gets fired Lindy is going to be in the mix and we'll just wait and see what happens here. We can't think it's that big of a deal. He had been around this organization forever and it's going to be something awkward but special too to see him. For us as players we just have to go out there and do our jobs."
Ron Rolston: "I haven't paid attention. It will be interesting who they hire right now. The lockout does that, puts more pressure on teams if they don't have a good start. Whoever they hire, it will be a good opportunity for him."
Rolston on Cooper: "He's a friend of mine, a real good coach. He's won everywhere he's been and had a lot of success. He does a great job. He'd be a great fit. They have a lot of their players here. It would be a transition where he could come in and know probably half the team."