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Tampa Bay Lightning's new assistant, Mike Sullivan, found close to home

Mike Sullivan, top, was re-hired as a Lightning assistant and joins Rick Tocchet’s staff.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2007)

Mike Sullivan, top, was re-hired as a Lightning assistant and joins Rick Tocchet’s staff.

TAMPA — Interim coach Rick Tocchet said he was involved in every step of Tuesday's hiring of Mike Sullivan as associate coach.

"I was involved in pretty well all of it," Tocchet said. "We kicked around some ideas, and Sully's name came up early."

That makes sense. Sullivan, a member of former coach John Tortorella's staff, was in the last year of his contract and being paid anyway.

The question was, would he be a good fit for Tocchet, who took over Nov. 14 from fired Barry Melrose? Tocchet said "two or three" private meetings over the past week convinced him Sullivan was a keeper.

"He has the same philosophy," Tocchet said. "He wants to play a high-tempo game and practice at a really high tempo. He wants guys to be more aggressive on the puck."

General manager Brian Lawton said he made the ultimate decision to hire Sullivan but told Tocchet to advise him of any reservations.

"I'd have processed that and possibly gone in another direction," Lawton said, adding Tocchet "came back and said, 'He's great.' "

Sullivan, 40, who will work with the defense, got a new one-year contract. Though unsaid, the former Bruins coach is a reliable fallback in case Tocchet does not work out.

Sullivan played with Tocchet from 1998-2000 for the Coyotes. He played with Lawton for the Sharks and assistant Wes Walz for the Flames.

"It's easier when you have established relationships," Sullivan said. "I went through the process with Brian Lawton and Tocc, and wanted to make sure it was the right fit for both of them. It's important coaches share the same philosophy. It was a fairly smooth process, and here I am."

"He taught me a lot last year," defenseman Mike Lundin said. "He's one of the smartest coaches I ever played for."

ODDS AND ENDS: Assistant Cap Raeder was made a roving goaltenders coach who will work throughout the organization. … G Karri Ramo was sent to AHL Norfolk, which says Mike Smith (lower body) will at least dress tonight against the Rangers. … D Lukas Krajicek (left knee) may be able to play. … W Matt Pettinger left practice after tripping over a rut in the ice and hurting his right knee. … C Wyatt Smith, a summer free-agent depth signing, was traded to the Coyotes for futures considerations.

Tampa Bay Lightning's new assistant, Mike Sullivan, found close to home 11/25/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 2:16pm]
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