Tocchet gets two years; Sullivan on hold
The Lightning on Monday announced that coach Rick Tocchet had the interim label removed from his title and was given a "multi-year" deal, though Tocchet apparently received two years at about $550,000 a year.
It had been thought Tocchet would get a three-year deal, generally standard for all head coaches, but the two-year deal puts him on the same timetable as assistant Wes Walz, goaltenders coach Cap Raeder and video coach Nigel Kirwan, all of whom will be back.
GM Brian Lawton said he has given associate coach Mike Sullivan permission to speak to other teams. It is well known Sullivan wants to be a head coach, and the Oilers and Wild jobs are open. As for remaining an associate, Lawton said he also gave Sullivan permission "for family reasons" to talk to teams closer to his Massachusetts hometown. It is not far-fetched to think Sullivan will get interest from the Rangers and former Lightning coach John Tortorella.
Lawton said he will wait about two weeks before making any moves to fill the associate coach slot. That will give Sullivan a chance to contemplate what opportunities are out there. It would be a shame, in a sense, if Sullivan leaves.Part of what made the coaching staff click was the ability of Tocchet and Sullivan to work so well together. But even if Sullivan does leave, Tocchet said the length of time before training camp is to begin will give any coach that comes in plenty of time to integrate. Tocchet also is very good at sharing the wealth, so to speak, and gives his assistants plenty of room to work.
But getting back to Tocchet's deal for a second. A two-year contract would seem to put him in a precarious position given that after next season he could become a lame duck. But the sense is that depending on how next season goes, the team could extend him before 2010-11 season to make sure he is not a lame duck.
Also, Lawton announced that the rest of the staff, including medical trainers Tommy Mulligan and Mike Poirier, message therapist Mike Griebel and equipment managers Ray Thill, Rob Kennedy and Clay Roffer all were signed to multi-year deals believed to be two years.