Steve Yzerman, the Lightning’s vice president and general manager, announced Sunday morning that the coach has been fired 31 games into his third season. Yzerman has appointed assistant coaches Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix as coaches forSunday's game at the Winnipeg Jets.
Under Boucher this winter, the Lightning (27 points) have struggled. They own a 13-17-1 record, good for fourth place in the Southeast Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference -- better only than the Florida Panthers’ 24 points and 9-17-6 mark.
The lockout-shortened campaign began with promise after wins in six of their first seven games, but Tampa Bay has dropped behind division leaders, Winnipeg (34 points) and the Carolina Hurricanes (32), with 17 contests left.
The announcement came after the Lightning lost to the Ottawa Senators 5-3 on Saturday, their second consecutive defeat on a three-game road trip to Canada.
"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 release. "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.”
Boucher, 41, was hired as the Lightning’s seventh coach on June 10, 2010. He led them to a 46 victories in his first season, tying a franchise-best amount, and 103 points, the second-most in team history.
That year, they reached the Eastern Conference finals in their first postseason berth since the 2006-07 campaign, losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
In addressing media in Winnipeg on Sunday, Yzerman said he made the decision to fire Boucher after watching Tampa Bay's loss to Ottawa. Despite the slide – the Lightning are five points behind the Hurricanes for the final playoff spot – the general manager said the postseason still is possible.
"This is not a desperate act to make the playoffs, but that is still our hope to do,” Yzerman said. “I expect our guys to now do whatever it takes to get us into the playoffs. Our players still have a lot to play for."
Tampa Bay finished with 84 points (38-36-8) last season, eight behind the Senators and Washington Capitals for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spots. Boucher closes with 214 points and a 97-78-20 record for his Lightning career.
Tampa Bay has one playoff berth in the past five seasons, after earning four consecutive postseason appearances from 2002-03 to 2006-07.