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Tampa Bay Lightning Re-Sign Rick Tocchet as Head Coach

Kevin van Steendelaar@@LeTirEtLeButAnalyst IMay 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Head coach Rick Tocchet of the Tampa Bay Lightning gives players direction in his game against the Los Angeles Kings on January 12, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have decided to make Rick Tocchet their full time coach.The team made the announcement Monday that they have signed Tocchet to a contract extension.

The terms of the deal were not announced.

“It’s something we’re proud to do and wanted to do,” said team owner Oren Koules. “He’s a character guy. He’s absolutely our guy.”

The former NHL star took over in mid-November after Barry Melrose was fired.

Tampa Bay, hampered by injuries, went 19-33-14 under Tocchet, and dressed 50 players in 2008-2009. 22 of those players were defencemen.

"Now I’m on the clock,” the 45-year-old Tocchet said.

“I’m ready to go. We have some great pieces on this team. I think we have a lot of players here that can do the job. I’m excited.”

After a post-season review, General Manager Brian Lawton decided against considering other candidates for the head coaching position.

“Under a difficult situation, he did a great job,” Lawton said.

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It was also announced that assistant coach Wes Walz, goaltending coach Cap Raeder and video coach Nigel Kirwan also will return for the 2009-2010 season.

Lawton added that, associate coach, Mike Sullivan has an offer to stay with the team, but was given permission to look for another NHL assistant or head coaching position.

“He wants to weigh all his options,” Lawton said. “It wouldn’t shock me if we had to move in another direction.”

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