Monday, 22 June 2015

Gwozdecky's Departure Creates an Opportunity for Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced earlier today that Assistant Coach George Gwozdecky, who joined the team in 2013, will be leaving to pursue other opportunities.  The team's success with Gwozdecky serving as a member of the coaching staff speaks for itself, so it's almost impossible not to wish him the absolute best as he moves on to whatever is next.

With that said, it's also hard not to view his departure as an opportunity for Tampa Bay.  As a primer for my argument, consider the following tidbit of information from Raw Charge's John Fontana:
"Coach George Gwozdecky is the man who is in charge of the power play for the Lightning; a versed and storied college head coach that graduated to the pro ranks in August of 2013 when he was hired by Tampa Bay. He joined the was hired to coach in part because of his ability to work with younger players as he had so well in his time with the University of Denver."

Fontana's piece was written in February, but the main point still stands.  Gwozdecky played a big role in coaching Tampa's power play.  And we know all about Tampa's power play.  I wrote about its futility a few days ago.

My (foggy) understanding of the situation is that Gwozdecky and Jon Cooper worked together on the power play over the past two seasons.  Cooper ran it from the bench during games, as Gwozdecky was the team's "eye in the sky" from the press box.  But, as far as unit development went during 2013-14 and 2014-15, it appears that the two worked closely together.

The Lightning's press release indicated that Gwozdecky is leaving the team to pursue other opportunities, but it almost feels more significant than that:
I don't want to get into rumormongering or anything of the sort; the honest reality is that I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes with this team.  The question Kyle poses is an interesting one, though.  Something needed to change about Tampa's power play.  Still, I didn't expect something as drastic as a coach's departure.  This signifies change in a big way, even if the decision was Gwozdecky's idea and at his complete discretion.

But, as said, Gwozdecky leaving creates an opportunity for the Lightning regardless of whether the team had anything to do with it.  It's an opportunity to replace the guy who ran ice cold power play units with someone else, someone who might be able to generate more.

For a Tampa team that was so close to lifting the Stanley Cup this season, the right play with the upcoming coaching hire could be huge.  The process that Tampa's special teams units used this year was putrid at best.  Getting a new coach who can focus on and improve those areas will only serve to make the Lightning more dangerous.  What this group needs right now is a special teams coordinator.  They now have an opening for one, and that's a good thing.

Thanks for reading.

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