By MIKE MASTOVICH
If the Johnstown Chiefs make a coaching change, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning won’t make that decision, according to a statement by Tampa GM Jay Feaster.
On Tuesday, The Tribune-Democrat sought input from Feaster for a story regarding coach Frank Anzalone’s future in Johnstown that ran in Wednesday’s edition.
Jay Preble, the Lightning’s director of public relations, e-mailed a statement from Feaster on Wednesday. That same morning, the story already had been published including comments from Chiefs owner Jim Weber that suggested he is about to make a coaching change.
“Frank Anzalone is under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning through the 2007-08 season, and we have no plans of making a coaching change in Johnstown,” Feaster said in the e-mail.
The Lightning lost 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference playoff series Wednesday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Chiefs Vice President of Hockey Operations Ryan Belec, who also is an assistant to Feaster, attended the game in Tampa but said he had no new insight on the Chiefs’ coaching situation or any news regarding the teams’ affiliation.
Anzalone said Tuesday night that his future hinged on Feaster and Weber’s decision. The coach also alluded to the possibility of the Lightning’s role in the Chiefs’ hockey operations perhaps moving in a different direction.
Feaster’s comment could be an indication that Tampa – currently a minority owner of the Chiefs responsible for all hockey decisions – might alter its involvement in the Chiefs’ operations. If not, then Weber and Feaster might not be on the same page regarding the coaching situation.
Weber insisted the organizations maintain a solid working relationship. He did not comment on the affiliation, though he continued to insist changes are coming in the hockey operations.
“We’re in the middle of a re-evaluation process and everything is being considered,” Weber said when informed of Feaster’s statement. “I’m still considering all options.”
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