Tocchet hopes to lead Lightning to win in team debut

Tampa Bay (5-7-4) at Carolina (8-7-2), 3:00 pm EST

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) — Rick Tocchet hopes his
tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning will be more successful than
Barry Melrose’s was.

The new head coach looks to help the Lightning snap a three-game
losing streak when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Tocchet has taken over a team that is last in the NHL in goals
(33) and has suffered greatly from captain Vincent Lecavalier’s
struggles. After recording 40 goals and 52 assists in 2007-08,
the 28-year-old has just six goals and five assists in 16
contests this season.

Following a busy offseason that included trading for Vaclav
Prospal, Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts, signing goaltender Olaf
Kolzig, Mark Recchi and Radim Vrbata and hiring Melrose, Tampa
Bay was greeted this season with lofty expectations.

However, Melrose was fired on Friday after an unimpressive
16-game stint with the team that finished with the league’s
worst record last season (31-42-9).

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Melrose, who had been out of coaching for 13 years, was the
second NHL coach to be let go in 2008-09. The Chicago
Blackhawks fired Denis Savard four games into the season and
handed the job over to Joel Quenneville.

Tocchet has been in the NHL for 25 years as a player and coach.
He played 18 seasons, most notably with the Philadelphia Flyers
and Pittsburgh Penguins, and was an assistant with three clubs.

The Lightning were defeated by the Hurricanes, 4-3, in overtime
on October 11 in the the teams’ last meeting.

Carolina has dropped three straight overall as well, and
experienced offensive problems of its own. During their current
skid, the Hurricanes have tallied just five times.

Their offensive droughts were evident in a 3-2 loss to the
Atlanta Thrashers on Friday and a 5-1 defeat against the
Washington Capitals two days prior.