By John Vogl
MONTREAL -- The Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Guy Boucher this morning, possibly giving Lindy Ruff his first opportunity to accept or turn down a coaching job since being let go in Buffalo.
The Lightning are 13-17-1 and sit 14th in the Eastern Conference despite offensive talents such as Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Canisius product Cory Conacher. They've struggled in goal, however, and Boucher is gone.
Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman said assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching responsibilities for the game tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
"Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done," Yzerman said in a statement. "But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise."
The Sabres play in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Yzerman was the executive director of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, and Ruff was an assistant coach for the gold-medal winners. Ruff has been out of the spotlight since a farewell news conference Feb. 22, two days after the Sabres fired him. He said he wanted to clear his head but added he definitely planned to return to coaching.
The Lightning also has Jon Cooper in their organization, and the coach led their AHL team on a record-setting championship run last season.