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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
Springfield Falcons head coach Dirk Graham has been relieved of his coaching duties, it was announced today by Tampa Bay Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster. The club also elected not to exercise an option on assistant coach Phil Russell's contract.

Graham coached the Falcons for two seasons and served as a pro scout for the Lightning during the 2003-04 season. He has one year remaining on his contract with Tampa Bay and has been offered another position within the Lightning organization.

Springfield posted records of 24-47-3-6 and 28-43-3-6 in two seasons with Graham at the helm, missing the Calder Cup Playoffs both seasons.

"Dirk Graham is one of the finest gentlemen I have ever had the privilege of working with - not just in professional hockey - but working with, period," Feaster said. "Our record the past two years in Springfield and the team's failure to qualify for the playoffs during that time reflects an organizational failure. It is an unfortunate reality of our business that today an outstanding person and a first-class human being paid the price for our collective inability to reach our goals in Springfield.

"We will now begin a comprehensive and exhaustive search process for a new head coach of the Falcons. We remain committed to putting a winning product on the ice in Springfield, and the hiring of a new head coach is the first of many steps we will take in that process before training camp opens in September."
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