It was rumored a few weeks ago that Mike Sullivan and Glen Gulutzan would join John Tortorella in Vancouver, and now that has been confirmed by the coach himself.
While speaking at the Canucks Summer Summit, Tortorella confirmed that both men will be joining him as assistants behind the bench. He also noted that video coach Darryl Williams and goalie coach Rollie Melanson would be staying on board.
Sullivan was Tortorella’s assistant while with the New York Rangers and the two have five seasons of experience together there. Sullivan is also a former head coach of the Boston Bruins.
Gulutzan, who was fired by the Stars after this past season, wound up not being out of work very long. Tortorella says he’s looking forward to working with him in Vancouver.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a vacancy to fill now that Guy Boucher has been fired.
Team GM Steve Yzerman has a big decision to make on who to have take over the reigns of his scoring talented/defensively hampered team. Who are the candidates to pick from? Here’s a short list.
Lindy Ruff — The former Buffalo Sabres head coach is the available veteran. He’s close with Yzerman after the two worked together on the 2010 Canadian Olympic team. His track record in Buffalo is more than solid having coached there from 1997 until this season when he was fired by the Sabres. If Yzerman wants a guy with a wealth of experience, Ruff is there for the taking and TSN’s Bob McKenzie says they could be going for a veteran guy now.
Jon Cooper — The current head coach of the Lightning’s AHL team, the Syracuse Crunch, Cooper has a ton of experience working with many of the guys on the current roster. Cooper led the Norfolk Admirals to the Calder Cup last season and has the Crunch (it’s still the same team, just in a new place) at the top of the standings this year even in spite of all the call-ups.
The only question with Cooper is whether or not Yzerman would opt for another guy with no NHL head coaching experience. McKenzie says some of the Lightning veterans started tuning out Boucher. Would bringing in Cooper just be a continuation of that?
Dallas Eakins — The Toronto Marlies head coach is a guy who could be ready for an NHL job, but the Lightning would have to A) ask the Maple Leafs for permission to interview him and B) Decide a guy without NHL experience is a good fit. It’s not likely he’d be a pick here, but he’ll get an NHL job sometime soon, just probably not in Central Florida.
Mike Sullivan — Larry Brooks of the New York Post mentions him as a guy who could get consideration. He’s currently John Tortorella’s assistant in New York but his last head job came in Boston back in 2003-04 and 05-06 with the Bruins. Sullivan was an assistant in Tampa Bay in 07-08 so he’s connected to the team there. Question here is whether or not he has his eyes set on going for the head job at Boston University.
While the playoffs roll on, the Calgary Flames are busy thinking about who they should bring in as their new head coach.
Rumors have swirled around regarding who might be the guy tapped with leading the NHL’s oldest team back to the playoffs, and Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald runs down the short list. One thing’s for sure, the Flames will have their choice of either new blood or NHL-seasoned experience behind the bench. Amongst the names being mentioned now:
- Former Avalanche and Thrashers head coach Bob Hartley
- Former Oilers head coach and current Chicago Wolves coach Craig MacTavish
- Current Rangers assistant coach and former Bruins head coach Mike Sullivan
- Abbostford Heat (Flames AHL affiliate) coach Troy Ward
- Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs AHL affiliate) coach Dallas Eakins
Feaster has a lot of decisions to make this summer regarding free agents, potential signings, and possible trades but picking out the right coach is one that could help the Flames turn things around faster. With the luck the Flames have had in choosing retreads in recent years, perhaps new blood wouldn’t be the worst idea.
George Johnson of the Calgary Herald has an interesting theory regarding the Flames’ vacant head coaching gig, suggesting that current New York Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan could be at (or near) the top of the candidate list.
At 44, Sullivan would project the youngish, upwardly mobile image an exhausted, stale franchise keeps insisting it’s searching for. He therefore doesn’t come with a lot of baggage, but would arrive with NHL head-coaching experience already at his beck and call.
Sullivan, remember, skippered his home-state Boston Bruins for two seasons, sandwiched around the 2004-2005 lockout. In the first of those, he piloted the B’s to a 41-17-15-7 record, good for 104 points and top perch in the Northeast Division.
He was also highly regarded enough to be part of the U.S. setup for the Torino Olympics in 2006.
Other things working in Sullivan’s favor?
— He’s familiar with the city and organization. He spent three seasons playing in Calgary in the mid-90s.
— Sullivan worked for Flames GM Jay Feaster in Tampa Bay (as an assistant coach under John Tortorella.)
— He’s not that far removed from his playing days (former teammate of Daniel Briere, Shane Doan and Michal Handzus, among others.)
It’ll be interesting to see if the timing works out for Sullivan and the Flames. He’s unable to speak with any potential suitors until after New York’s playoffs are over and there’s a belief Feaster would like a coach in place prior to the draft.
That doesn’t leave a huge window of opportunity, especially if the Rangers advance to the Cup final.