It doesn't seem fair. I mean, couldn't they have fired him before he flew to Winnipeg? Couldn't they have waited until he'd crossed back over the border? Imagine that long trip back to Florida, then waiting to clear customs … so you can go clean out your office.

But there it is: Guy Boucher is out as Lightning coach, less than two seasons after his spectacular NHL debut, when he steered the Bolts to the brink of the Stanley Cup finals. He was the talk of the league then, no detail too small, nothing left untouched _ and eventually that's what helped do him in.

Last year's drop off was one thing, but this season is also officially graveyard bound. The Lightning aren't a top-tier team, but they aren't as bad as they've looked, and that was more than Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could bear.

Still, the methodical Yzerman surprised us with this move this fast. We knew the heat was building around Boucher, but figured, wrongly, that he would at least keep him safe through this season. Then he'd then be forced to change some of his ways, jettison staff, switch how the Bolts play in their own end (defense), loosen his grip on the foundering Lightning power play, etc. Instead, he's the first one out the door.

Yzerman surely has a replacement in mind. It could be stalwart Lindy Ruff, or Jon Cooper, coach of the Lightning's AHL affiliate, whose team in Norfolk last season set-win streak records and won the Calder Cup. It seems like half of Cooper's guys are up here with the Lightning anyway.

It seems like just yesterday that Boucher was the next big thing. He's a good man, talented, devoted to his craft, and wonderful to media. But I'm not ever sure he knew how to let go when it came to his job, how to relent, how to ease off the gas. He brought structure and order to a club that desperately needed it, but then kept right on structuring, structuring and structuring.

This team did have injuries, and some offseason moves, like goaltender Anders Lindback, haven't paid off. And plenty of players let the Lightning down. It's never just the coach, never.

But Boucher wore this job out. The Lightning marketed his intensity, that game stare, but that will work for only so long once you stop winning. Then the message fades.