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Tampa Bay Lightning GM has no issues with New York Rangers

Assistant Mike Sullivan’s deal with the Lightning ends after this season.

Getty Images (2007)

Assistant Mike Sullivan’s deal with the Lightning ends after this season.

EDMONTON — Lightning GM Brian Lawton said he has no tampering issues with the Rangers concerning any interest they had in hiring Tampa Bay associate coach Mike Sullivan.

Still, New York coach John Tortorella made it clear after his first practice with his new team that he wanted his old Tampa Bay colleague to join him. Instead, New York convinced its assistant GM, Jim Schoenfeld, to be interim assistant for the rest of the season.

"I think Mike Sullivan is a hell of a coach and I wanted him here, but it got a little crazy," Tortorella told New York reporters on Tuesday. "I'm asking Jim to help. He wasn't pushing for any of this stuff. He knows Sully. He's doing me a favor instead of me going out sifting for a coach."

Sullivan, who turns 41 on Friday, and Tortorella were fired by the Lightning in June. He declined an offer to coach AHL Norfolk and in November was rehired by Tampa Bay as right-hand man to interim coach Rick Tocchet.

His contract apparently contains a clause that allows him to pursue other league coaching jobs, even in season, if the move would better his position.

Lawton said the Rangers did not approach him about Sullivan, though Newsday reported, without a source, Tampa Bay "balked" at letting Sullivan move.

Still, Lawton said, "There's absolutely no tampering issue with Mike Sullivan and the New York Rangers."

Either way, it appears a move to New York would have been lateral for Sullivan, whose Tampa Bay contract runs through this season, when the possibility of him joining Tortorella could come up again.

Sullivan declined comment.

LACK OF SHOTS: With so much focus on shots allowed, the Lightning's paltry 31 shots in two games entering Tuesday were somewhat unnoticed.

Tocchet said an injury-depleted defense has to do more.

"Sometimes I get on the forwards too much, 'Get to the net, get the puck down low,' '' he said. "But when the puck goes to the point, we have to get some of our defensemen to move the puck and get shots through, so I think it's a five-man unity when you're not getting shots or scoring goals. The defense has to do a better job of moving and getting shots through."

OLIE THE ... COACH?: His left arm still is weak from biceps tendon surgery — he said he cannot lift anything heavier than a coffee mug — but G Olie Kolzig is doing what he can to help.

He was on the ice Tuesday, working with Gs Karri Ramo and Mike McKenna.

"You have to pick your spots because you realize you're not wearing any equipment," Kolzig said.

"He's still a player, and I'm not going to put him in a situation where he's a coach," Tocchet said. "But he can work with some of the young guys. He has a world of knowledge, and it gives him something to come to the rink for. Plus, he's a well thought of leader in the room."

ODDS AND ENDS: D Lukas Krajicek, day to day with a sore right hip, had an MRI exam on Monday. No specifics on the results, though Tocchet said he did not believe the injury serious. … LW David Koci played as the sixth defenseman. … RW Marty St. Louis played his 600th Lightning game.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM has no issues with New York Rangers 02/24/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 7:19am]
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