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Mike Sullivan strolled back into the Lightning locker room just after 11 a.m. after an early-morning flight from Boston. It was announced this morning that Sullivan had agreed to return to the team as associate coach to work with Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet, and that’s great news for Lightning fans.
Sullivan brings tons of NHL coaching experience into the locker room, which can only help Tocchet and Assistant Coach Wes Walz. Cap Raeder, brought in as an assistant this past summer, will now shift over to his preferred role as the organization’s goaltending coach. Raeder will travel between Tampa, Norfolk and Augusta working with the goaltenders under Lightning contract, as well as the younger goalies in the system who haven’t turned pro yet. Sullivan will handle the defense on the bench while Walz will assist in all areas.
“I was surprised to get the call,” Sullivan said. “It has been a fairly smooth process and here I am.”
Sullivan’s comfort level in coming back is high, considering he already knows a lot of the players and was teammates with Tocchet, Brian Lawton and Walz during different points of his career. He also said he’s had philosophical discussions with Tocchet about the direction of the team.
“Its critical for the coaching staff to be on the same page,” Sullivan said.
Now to update the increasing MASH unit: Mike Smith (lower body) was back on the ice after his two-day break and is good to go for tomorrow, so Karri Ramo has been shipped back to Norfolk. Lukas Krajicek (lower body) skated on his own prior to practice and felt good enough to participate in the full workout. He could possibly return tomorrow night against the Rangers.
Matt Pettinger hit a rut in the ice and twisted his knee during practice and had to be helped off. What seemed like a major injury at the time turned out not to be as bad as expected, though his status for tomorrow is in doubt. Gary Roberts (upper body) skated and looks ready to return.