Who's up if associate coach Mike Sullivan decides to leave?
There are plenty of options for associate coach Mike Sullivan to consider. He could try for the head coaching gigs in Minnesota, Edmonton and now Calgary. He could be in the running for the associate coach job with the Rangers, where he would be reunited with former Lightning coach John Tortorella.
Why bring this up now? Because it's been about two weeks since Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said he would give Sullivan "about two weeks" before starting the process of finding his replacement. Lawton is by no means shutting Sullivan out, but, after all, Tampa Bay needs to start moving forward.
Lawton on Friday didn't have any new information on where Sullivan's situation was at. He said he had put in a call but had yet to get a response. He declined to comment about who the team could be looking at as a possible replacement. But we can connect some dots.
One name that has surfaced is Kevin Dineen. The coach of the AHL Portland, a Sabres affiliate, has led the Pirates to a 98-45-17 record the past two seasons and took the team to the playoffs both times. He also played with Lightning coach Rick Tocchet during the 1991-92 season in Philadelphia and with Lawton in 1988-89 with the Whalers.
Others who could get consideration depending on their circumstances are former Rangers coach Tom Renney, though he likely is aftera head coaching job; former Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsey, though it is believed he would be difficult to pry from his family in Minnesota; and Sharks assistant Todd Richards, though media reports say he could be in line to take over the Wild.
There are likely others, whose names have not surfaced, but Dineen, amongst the previously mentioned shallow pool, seems to be the most available. Dineen declined comment through the Portland media relations office.
Remember, the Lightning is in the infant steps of searching for a new assistant, and the door always is open for Sullivan, who worked so well last season with Tocchet. In other words, there will be plenty of time for new names to come up. But keep Dineen, a scrappy 19-year NHL vet who spent most of his career with the old Whalers, in mind.