Former NHL forward Steve Thomas played a collective 1,235 career NHL games during his pro career, then moved on to coaching in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s system.
After four years in the team’s development system as a coach and coordinator, then two years as an assistant coach, though, he’s moving on.
It was reported on Monday that Thomas has been granted permission by the Lightning to speak to other NHL clubs, and that multiple teams have come knocking. This came in the wake of news that the coach would not be renewing his contract with the Lightning, which was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie earlier in the day.
A native of Stockport, England – but considered Canadian by nationality – the 52-year-old Thomas could be headed to a number of destinations. The Arizona Coyotes need a new AHL head coach, as do a handful of other clubs – including the Colorado Avalanche. Other clubs are still looking to round out their coaching staffs, and two clubs (the Anaheim Ducks and the Calgary Flames) still have yet to hire a head coach for the upcoming season.
For the Lightning, though, this is certainly bad news. The club lost assistant coach George Gwozdecky last off-season, as well – while they’ve managed to keep head coach Jon Cooper on board with no strife, seeing a second well-thought-of assistant heading out is likely a disappointment.