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Tortorella fired as coach of Tampa Bay Lightning

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -John Tortorella was fired Tuesday as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, four years after leading the team to its only Stanley Cup championship. He had one season remaining on his contract.

The Lightning were 239-222-36-38 and made the playoffs four times in 6 1/2 seasons under Tortorella.

"This has been a very difficult decision because of everything that John Tortorella has meant to and done for this organization," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement.

"Torts came to Tampa and not only built the foundation under our club but he also changed the culture and raised the expectations, eventually leading us to the Stanley Cup in 2004. What he accomplished during his tenure in Tampa was nothing short of remarkable and our organization will always owe him our thanks, gratitude and deep respect."

The firing came as no surprise. There has already been speculation about television analyst and former Los Angeles Kings coach Barry Melrose possibly replacing Tortorella.

Melrose is a friend of Oren Kroules, who is leading a group that is trying to buy the Lightning.

"John was entering the final year of his contract and extending his contract was not a viable option," Feaster said. "Having him enter and coach the season in a lame duck status was not something I was prepared to recommend to ownership."

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