The Tampa Bay Lightning announced some good news and some bad news today. Head coach Jon Cooper and forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare have both exited the COVID protocol, but Cal Foote and Taylor Raddysh have taken their place. Goaltending coach Frantz Jean has also entered the protocol.
Getting Cooper back is obviously big news for the Lightning, who take on their state rival Florida Panthers tonight in a matchup that could have playoff implications down the road. Tampa Bay, Florida, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are all battling for supremacy at the top of the Atlantic Division, with the Lightning currently holding a four-point lead on both. The head coach doesn’t have to split his attention anymore either–his services at the upcoming Olympics are no longer required, after the NHL decided against participation.
Losing Foote hurts though, even if he is averaging just over 13 minutes a night this season. The 23-year-old defenseman is a key piece of depth for the Lightning and has suited up 20 times this season, registering strong results in his limited ice time. With Andrej Sustr and Mikhail Sergachev already unavailable due to the COVID protocol, the defensive depth of Tampa Bay will be tested.