Associate coach Mike Sullivan exploring options
The Lightning would love to have associate coach Mike Sullivan back behind the bench with coach Rick Tocchet. Their working relationship last season was one of the bright spots of an otherwise forgettable season. But as GM Brian Lawton said, "It wouldn't shock me if we had to be prepared to move in another direction."
Lawton said he would give Sullivan, who had the thankless job of handling a tattered defense, about two weeks to evaluate what options are available for him. At that point, Lawton said he would begin to move forward with the process of finding Sullivan's replacement while, of course, continuing to keep the door open for Sullivan.
It is common knowledge Sullivan, the former Bruins coach, wants to again be a head coach, and the Oilers and Wild jobs are open. Lawton said he also gave permission for Sullivan to speak to teams about assistant jobs as long as those jobs get Sullivan closer to his Massachusetts home. It's not hard to figure out the Rangers, and former coach John Tortorella, would be interested.
"He wanted to weigh all his options and he wasn't ruling anything out," Lawton said. "In the meantime, we will continue to do our due diligence. If he were fortunate enough to get a head coaching position, we have to be prepared to act and act quickly. We are doing our due diligence, but as of right now, Mike Sullivan would be welcomed back. He was a big part of what went on here last year. I thought he worked nicely with Rick."
Sullivan would not say anything more about his job prospects beyond he is "exploring" his options and will make "the best decision for me and my family."
He said taking the interim tag off Tocchet's title was the right choice.
"I think Toc did a terrific job in real tough circumstances," Sullivan said. "I think he commands a lot of respect, not only because of the type of player he was but because he did a hell of a job as coach. It was a well-deserved move for him."