Prior to joining John Tortorella with the Rangers, Mike Sullivan was Tortorella’s assistant coach in his final year in Tampa Bay.
Sullivan joined Tampa at the end of May in 2007 and GM Jay Feaster said that Sullivan was the only guy that Tortorella wanted to talk to:
“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.”
Tortorella added that he wanted to add Sullivan because of his past as a winner, both as a player and a coach, and “He is smart and aggressive and he understands the way we like to play the game; our team concept.”
Tortorella coached Sullivan when he was a player with the Coyotes in the late 90s.
Torts has said that Sullivan means “everything” to the Rangers.
Following the end of the Rangers season there was a lot of talk about assistant coach Mike Sullivan possibly leaving the organization to take a head coaching job.
At the end of the season Rangers head coach John Tortorella said that he definitely felt Sullivan should be a head coach in the league and he wouldn’t stand in his way of becoming one.
Tortorella told MSG.com that he had mixed feelings about possibly losing Sullivan “On the one hand. I was worried about losing Mike and on the other hand I was excited for him getting those job opportunities. Quite frankly, Sully means everything to our team; he’s an important cog; a huge piece to our puzzle because when all’s said and done, we all do it together.”
He added, “on the one hand I was disappointed that he didn’t get an opportunity (to be an NHL head coach) but, selfishly, I’m excited that he’s back.”
On an episode of Behind The Bench from this season, Tortorella talked about how does everything relating to the team with Sullivan and Jim Schoenfeld and he appreciates when they talk during practice as it’s another voice for the players to hear.
Adam Rotter: All three assistant coaches have a great relationship and losing Sullivan would have been a big blow to the Rangers. He works so well with the defensemen and has an opinion that John Tortorella puts a lot of stock in. Losing Sullivan would have been the Rangers biggest loss in the offseason.
At CBC, Elliotte Friedman writes that Calgary GM Jay Feaster had until June 1 to hire Bob Hartley as his coach because that was when Hartley’s “out” clause expired from his team in Switzerland.
Friedman writes that Hartley may have been Feaster’s top choice but he would have liked to have interview Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan and Kings assistant John Stevens.
Hartley was thought to be the front runner for the job in Montreal.
Mike Russo of the Star Tribune tweets, “Bob Hartley reported as new #Flames coach. When Jay Feaster was up for #mnwild gig, I wrote Hartley would be frontrunner if Jay got it” and “Hartley was coach of ’97 Hershey team that won Calder Cup when Feaster was GM. Hartley is godfather of Feaster’s youngest son, Ryan. “
Mike Sullivan had been rumored to be at the top of the list of people that Calgary was considering.
The Capitals, Oilers and Canadiens are still in need of a head coach.
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1:19PM: From Rangers Report, Sullivan said, “Do I have aspirations to be a head coach? Sure I do. I think everyone in this business does. I have been there before, bu for me, I am in a great situation here and I have a great relationship with Torts, Glen, Schoeny and the management team. This has been a great situation for so far, very rewarding, so that is where my mindset is.”
Katie Strang quotes John Tortorella as saying, “No way I’d stand in front of him. Too good of a coach.”
It has been reported that Mike Sullivan could be a top coaching candidate this summer and the he may be at the top of the list for the Calgary Flames.
In the Calgary Herald, via Puck Daddy, George Johnson writes that Sullivan fits in the Flames on so many levels.
He notes that Sullivan played in Calgary for three seasons in the mid-90s and knows GM Jay Feaster from their time together in Tampa Bay.
Don’t underestimate the ties to Feaster from Sullivan’s assistant coaching gig for Tortorella in Tampa Bay. Such working knowledge of each other eliminates the tiptoeing around and lets everyone get down to the task — a sizable one — at hand immediately.
Sullivan has been a Rangers assistant coach since the 2009-10 season.
Adam: It would stink to lose Sully, but he definitely deserves another shot at being a head coach. He has had so much to do with the development of the young defense and has a lot of responsibility under John Tortorella. The question of who would replace Sullivan isn’t easy to answer. Looking back through Tortorella’s coaching history, his assistants for most of his time in Tampa were Craig Ramsey and Jeff Reese. Ramsey was fired in Tampa, Sullivan replaced him, and Bishop is now the goalie coach for the Flyers.
From his time in NY with John Muckler, Charlie Huddy and Keith Acton are both assistants in the league. He was an assistant to Rangers assistant coach/assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld in Phoenix and going back about 20 years, Don Lever was an assistant with him in Buffalo. He was last the head coach of Chicago in the AHL in 2010-11. There are the options in Hartford with Ken Gernander, Pat Boller and J.J. Daigneault. Daigneault played half a seaosn while Tortorella was an assistant coach in Phoenix.
4/18/12 2:21PM: At CBC Elliotte Freidman writes that Sullivan will definitely be a candidate for the job in Calgary.
4/15/12: 8:11AM:In the NY Post, Larry Brooks writes that the Flames will definitely ask for permission to talk with Sullivan and that the Rangers are going to approve that request.
4/13/12: 1:49PM At TSN, Darren Dreger writes that Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan could be a candidate to coach the Calgary Flames due to his relationship with Flames GM Jay Feaster.
Sullivan coached with John Tortorella in Tampa Bay while Feaster was GM.