Tampa Bay Lightning


Monday, 05.22.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / Bolts Report
Tampa Bay Lightning
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Veteran coach Steve Stirling has been named as the head coach of the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by Tampa Bay Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster.

Stirling brings an extensive coaching resume to Springfield, having led the New York Islanders during the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons after a successful stint with Bridgeport of the AHL. In a one-and-a-half seasons in New York, Stirling led the Islanders to a 56-49-11-8 record and a spot in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where they lost to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

Prior to joining the Islanders, Stirling was head coach of New York's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. He was named Minor Pro Coach of the Year in 2001-02 by The Hockey News after leading the Sound Tigers to a 43-25-8-4 record and a spot in the Calder Cup Final. He led the Sound Tigers to the playoffs again in 2002-03, and finished with a record of 83-51-19-7 in two AHL seasons.

"When we began our search we were determined to hire someone with head coaching experience generally and a proven track record at the AHL and/or NHL levels specifically," Feaster said. "In Steve Stirling we feel we have accomplished our objectives in spades. Steve has been successful at every stop throughout his illustrious coaching career, and he knows the AHL and what it takes to win at this level.

"Not only is he an outstanding teacher who will develop players for us in Tampa, but he is an excellent bench boss who knows the keys to winning hockey games in this very competitive league. We are thrilled Steve has chosen to join the Tampa Bay and Springfield organizations.

"I especially want to thank Bruce Landon for his valuable participation throughout the selection process. We were fortunate to have many quality candidates apply for what is clearly a very desirable position in the AHL, and Bruce, along with Bill Barber, Claude Loiselle and John Tortorella all gave of their time to assist me with the interviewing and selection process. We are confident this collaborative effort produced a decision that will serve our respective organizations well for many years to come."

Prior to being named the head coach in Bridgeport Stirling spent three seasons (1998-2001) as an assistant coach in Lowell of the AHL, and he served as an assistant to Lorne Henning when Henning was named interim coach of the Islanders in 2000-01. His coaching career began at Babson College in Massachusetts in 1978, and was named Division II/III NCAA Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1982. Stirling then moved on to Providence College, leading the team to the 1985 NCAA Final, before returning to Babson as head coach and athletic director. Stirling's 15-season collegiate coaching record is 290-129-28 (.692).

As a player, Striling was an All-America center and captain of the 1971 NCAA champion Boston University Terriers. He spent five seasons in the Boston Bruins organization, playing for the Boston Braves and Rochester Americans of the AHL from 1971-76. He played two additional pro seasons in Austria before beginning his coaching career.

Stirling becomes the seventh coach in Falcons history and will be joined by assistant coach Darren Rumble during the 2006-07 season. Striling replaces Dirk Graham, who was relieved of his duties on April 17 after two seasons at the helm in Springfield.