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Culture has to Change - Tippett Written by Laci Bloomers - December 4th, 2008

In what is becoming one of the worse kept secrets in recent memory, Dave Tippett will soon be announced as the Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While it is not yet official, Tippett had plenty to say about the Lightning and their performance this season when this reporter caught up with him last night.

Our interview went like this:

LB: Hi Dave.  Thanks for taking time to have a chat with me.  While it has not been officially announced, today I broke a story that you are about to become the Coach of the Lightning.  Will you confirm that for the readers?

DT: I can not officially confirm that Laci, the club will have to make that announcement.

LB: There was talk of a news conference being scheduled today.  Can you comment on that?

DT: I believe that the organization will make an announcement, but not via news conference.

LB: So you are saying that they will announce you as the new Coach, but not via news conference.  When do you expect to be introduced to the media and fans?

DT: The Lightning will handle any announcements in the manner they see best.

LB: Will you be behind the bench for Thursday's game against the Dallas Stars?

DT: I am not sure yet.  No comment.

LB: They is a lot of leadership in the Lightning room this season, yet they have been inconsistent.  Where do you think some of the problems could be?

DT: This team does have some great leadership, when you look at Brind'Amour, Modano, Scotty Walker, Lehtinen, Langkow, McGillis and so on.  They have also started incorporating some fantastic youth looking toward the future.  When you look at the team's season thus far, they have lost a lot of close games, and that is fixable.

LB: The team is 5 games under .500 and has not played well at home.  Where do you start?

DT: Five games under .500 but only 5 points back of a playoff spot, and 7 out of the Division lead.  The entire Division has started slow, and that means we can turn things around.  This is not a confident group right now, but some simple things can make a huge difference.

LB: What sort of things, Dave?

DT: Well, this team has lost 5 one-goal games and has 5 ties.  That is 10 games that could have been won, or 15 points taken from us, umm, them.  Special teams alone could have made the difference.  With the scorers this club has, Brindy, Langkow, Radulov, Modano, a power play rated at 12% is unacceptable.  It needs to be better and it will.  The trade on Tuesday night for Ray Whitney will bring more leadership and another scoring winger to the team.  The play with the extra man will improve, and that will make a difference.

LB: What other things can be improved on?

DT: Well, at 85%, our PK can be better.  We have a good blend of defensively skilled forwards, and our D is solid in our own end.  Inconsistency has plagued the blueline a bit this year, and Thomas and Esche have been left out to dry too many times.  This comes down to doing some of the little things better.  More consistently.  Winning those one on one battles, and being tough to play against.

LB: The club has been outshooting their opponents but have been outscored.  Does that copme down to consistency again?

DT: To a certain extent, especially in special teams situations.  We average 15 penalty minutes per game, so on average we are allowing one short handed goal every contest.  That is the difference in 10 Lightning games this season.  Either the team must take less penalties, or work harder on the PK. 

LB: Seems pretty basic when you put it that way.

DT: Lets hope the players see it that way.

LB: Before we close, I just wanted to ask you about the players on the farm.  There are some guys who could likely play in the CMHL this year.  Will many of them get more opportunity now that you are here?

DT: The fact that we have a core of players who have played 20 games now affects that, especially with the tight Cap.  That is up to the GM in terms of creating Cap room.  My job as a coach is to pull the best results I can from the group of players I have.  I like the farm depth in this organization.  There is a core of players who will play in this league next season.  But that is next season, and now is now.  The Lightning have to start winning now, and for that to happen the coach needs the 20 guys in the room to buy in to a team system.  There are 20 guys in that room who know they have to be better individually and as a group.  Starting today.

LB: Thanks, Coach.

DT: No comment (laughs).

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