Six weeks after more or less terminating their ECHL affiliation with the Johnstown Chiefs, the Tampa Bay Lightning issued a press release today reporting that the team has entered into a one-year affiliation agreement with the Mississippi Sea Wolves of the ECHL. The Sea Wolves will serve as the Lightning's primary ECHL player developmental home for the 2007-2008 season. This marks a return by the Lightning organization to the Gulf Coast region and the ECHL Southeast Division, as Tampa had a multi-season affiliation with the Pensacola Ice Pilots prior to the affiliation with Johnstown.
Everett Silvertips defenseman Dane Crowley was not taken by the Edmonton Oil Kings in Tuesday's WHL expansion draft. The Everett Daily Herald had speculated early Tuesday that Crowley may be left unprotected. Tips General Manager Doug Soetaert was debating over whether to protect his potential professionals - Phoenix first rounder Peter Mueller and Crowley. Mueller, who signed an NHL contract last fall, can only play in the NHL with Phoenix or in the WHL - so he was to be protected. The paper considered Crowley an "even-odds bet to play professionally" next year. At 20 years of age, Crowley can play in the minor leagues.
The signing comes as a surprising and unexpected move by Tampa as Helenius missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. It has been speculated that Helenius may be coming to North America this fall to play in Canadian juniors, and that signing him a year early will mitigate signing risks next summer in the event he has a breakout season.
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 Tortorellaâ€™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.
By signing Lawrence, Tampa avoided losing his rights as he would have been eligible to re-enter the 2007 NHL Entry Draft on June 1 had he not come to terms with the Lightning.