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Former Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella hired by New York Rangers

John Tortorella replaces Tom Renney, fired on Monday.

John Tortorella replaces Tom Renney, fired on Monday.

EDMONTON — Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier has some advice for the Rangers on how to deal with new coach John Tortorella.

"Make sure you're five to seven minutes early for every meeting," Lecavalier said. "That's all I've got to say, or he won't be happy."

Agreed, right wing Marty St. Louis said:

"If you're on time, you're 10 minutes late."

New York, trying to right a season headed for a cliff, signed the former Lightning bench boss to a multiyear contract Monday, after firing Tom Renney, in an attempt to pull back from the ledge.

But did it step over a line?

Canada's TSN Web site reported the Lightning might have a tampering issue with the Rangers, perhaps in reference to associate coach Mike Sullivan.

Sullivan, whom the Lightning fired in June with Tortorella, was rehired in November to be the right-hand man of interim coach Rick Tocchet. Sullivan apparently has a clause in his contract giving him an out to join Tortorella if he got another job.

Tampering indicates some sort of illegal contact, though Lightning general manager Brian Lawton could not be reached for clarification, and owner Oren Koules and Sullivan declined comment.

Apparently untrue was a report Tortorella's hiring was being held up by Tampa Bay asking the Rangers for compensation. League rules do not allow compensation when a fired coach is hired elsewhere. And Tortorella, who had one year left on his contract when let go, was given a letter by then-general manager Jay Feaster, giving him permission to speak to other teams.

"We were already 'late' in the process and wanted to give him every chance to find a new job," Feaster said.

While Tortorella, 50, looked and worked as a television analyst for TSN, the Lightning continued paying the $1.3 million left on his contract. Tortorella's hiring saves Tampa Bay about $325,000.

And perhaps it gets the underachieving Rangers refocused after 10 losses in 12 games dropped them to sixth in the East, only two points ahead of the ninth-place Hurricanes.

"I think he's going to bring that fiery attitude. We seem to be missing it,'' Rangers president and GM Glen Sather said.

Feaster said the players have been put on notice.

"Tom Renney is a hell of a good coach and a hell of a good guy," Feaster said. "But, unfortunately, he's such a good guy, there are guys in that locker room that have taken advantage of it, and if you're one of those guys, God bless you, God help you. You'd better buy into the team concept.

"No matter who you are, who drafted you, no matter what money you're making, if you don't buy into the team concept, you will not play."

"He's going to challenge the guys, the key players," St. Louis said, "a fiery guy."

Who led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup title and earned the 2004 Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. He was a Rangers assistant and interim coach in 1999-2000.

"I'm real happy for him," said Lecavalier, who famously feuded with Tortorella, but who credits the coach with helping develop his game.

"I definitely think he's going to help that team. He was doing a great job on TV, but it's in him to be a coach. I'm sure, truly inside, that's what he wanted to do."

Monday's game

Sharks 0 0 1 1
Stars 0 0 0 0
Sharks 0 0 1 1
Stars 0 0 0 0

DALLAS — Evgeni Nabokov stopped 29 shots for his 45th career shutout and the Sharks won their fourth straight. With 15:32 left Nabokov smothered the puck on Brian Sutherby's close-in attempt, and the Stars' Stephane Robidas hit the post on the power play midway through the third. Dallas center Mike Modano (flu) sat out and is day to day.

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesLundqvist, Dal (holding stick), 6:25; San Jose bench, served by Setoguchi (too many men), 8:55; Turco, Dal, served by Ott (tripping), 17:22.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesMichalek, SJ (high-sticking), :40; Fistric, Dal (high-sticking), 5:36; Plihal, SJ (goalie interference), 8:00.

Third Period1, San Jose, Setoguchi 25 (Clowe, Ehrhoff), 7:55. PenaltyLukowich, SJ (interference), 8:16. Shots on GoalSan Jose 5-8-11—24. Dallas 11-8-10—29. Power-play opportunitiesSan Jose 0 of 3; Dallas 0 of 4. GoaliesSan Jose, Nabokov 32-7-7 (29 shots-29 saves). Dallas, Turco 28-21-7 (24-23). A17,988 (18,532). T2:17.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com. Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella hired by New York Rangers 02/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:06am]

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