The Tampa Bay Lightning have named Mike Sullivan their new assistant coach effective immediately. Sullivan becomes the 12th assistant coach in franchise history, joining head coach John Tortorella’s staff along with assistant goaltenders coach Jeff Reese, video coach Nigel Kirwan and strength and conditioning coach Eric Lawson.
"Mike Sullivan is a very bright, energetic, innovative and dynamic hockey coach," Feaster said. "He has experience as a head coach in the NHL and at the international level. Moreover, he was very successful as a head coach in the AHL. He has played professionally under Torts and he shares with John a belief in how to coach and develop players. We believe he is the ideal candidate to help John Tortorella get the best and the most out of our players.
"From the very first day of the search process, Torts identified Mike as his primary candidate. In fact, John made it clear that he didn't even want to speak with any other potential candidates until he knew where things stood with Mike, because Sully was his first and 'go-to' choice. We appreciate the Boston Bruins granting us permission to speak with Mike and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Mike to our organization."
“We are excited to add Mike to the coaching staff here, most importantly because he is the right fit for our team,” Tortorella said. “He is smart and aggressive and he understands the way we like to play the game; our team concept. Additionally, he has proven as a player and a coach that he knows what it takes to win in the National Hockey League, and that continues to be our focus here at the Lightning - winning as a team.”
In his first season with the Boston Bruins in 2003-04, he led the team to the Northeast Division title and the second-best record in the Eastern Conference with a mark of 41-19-15-7 and 104 points. In his sophomore year with Boston Sullivan led them to a 29-37-16 record. In 164 regular season games as a head coach he had a record of 70-56-15-23 with a 3-4 playoff record.
Sullivan, 39, most recently served as head coach for the U.S. Men’s team at the 2007 World Championships in Russia. The Americans finished fifth in the tournament after dropping a 5-4 shootout decision against eventual silver-medalist Finland in the elimination round. The United States finished the tournament with a 5-3-1 record. He also served as assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team at the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.
Sullivan joined Boston after spending one season as head coach of their top American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island. Under his guidance the P-Bruins captured their third division title as they won the North Division with a 44-20-11-5 record and 104 points. That season they ranked third overall in the AHL in offense with 268 goals and established a franchise record with a 19-game home unbeaten streak from December 6 until February 23, posting a 16-0-3-0 record during that span.
Following his stint with Providence he was named the assistant coach of the NHL’s Bruins on March 20, 2003 under then interim head coach Mike O’Connell. He coached in Boston for the final nine games of the regular season as the Bruins posted a 3-3-3-0 record and were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals before he returned to Providence to finish the season.
A native of Marshfield, Massachusetts, Sullivan played four seasons of college hockey at Boston University from 1986-87 until 1989-90. He scored 61 goals and recorded 138 points in 141 career college games. He was drafted by the New York Rangers as their fourth pick, 69th overall, in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, though he never signed with them. He began his NHL career in August of 1991 when he signed a free agent contract with the San Jose Sharks after spending one season with the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League. Sullivan went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL and scored 54 goals with 136 points in 709 games during his playing career.