The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting former Wild centerman Wes Walz has been contacted by the Lightning to gauge his interest in a possible assistant coach position with Tampa Bay. The newspaper, citing "a source," also states San Jose Sharks scout and former NHL assistant coach and goaltender Cap Raeder could also be added - along with Phoenix's Rick Tocchet - to the Lightning coaching staff, which is expected to be headed by ESPN's Barry Melrose.
No formal coaching announcements can take place until OK Hockey finalizes their ownership transfer this week.
Walz, who has no NHL coaching experience, confirmed to the Star-Tribune that indeed he would be interested in a Lightning coaching position. "Obviously I can't officially sign a contract until after June 18," Walz told the paper, "but if it makes sense financially and the term is right, I'm very interested."
Raeder was an assistant coach with the Kings from 1988-1995, which would make him a member of Melrose's staff in Los Angeles from 1992-1995. After leaving the Kings, Raeder served as an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins from 1995-1997, then as a scout for San Jose from 1997-2000, when he was named assistant coach for the Sharks. He was a Sharks assistant coach through 2000-2001, then retained as a professional scout. Raeder served as an interim head coach with the Sharks for two games between the tenures of Darryl Sutter and Ron Wilson in 2002.
The Arizona Republic reported last week the Lightning requested permission to speak with Tocchet, who's contract with the Coyotes is up at the end of the month, about an assistant position on the coaching staff. Tocchet was on Melrose's 1994-1995 Kings squad, finishing second to Wayne Gretzky in points. Potential Lightning co-owner Len Barrie played one game with Tocchet's 1989-1990 Philadelphia Flyers club.
With Lightning Head Coach John Tortorella now out of a job and watching as the coaching vacancy list shrinks (Los Angeles is reportedly interested in hiring Kings assistant Mike Johnston), and current Associate Coach Mike Sullivan communicating with the Atlanta Thrashers, it appears much-maligned Goaltending Coach Jeff Reese will be the next Bolt coach under contract to be looking elsewhere for work.
If the Star-Tribune's source is correct, it looks as if Cap Raeder could be the next goaltending-focused coach in Tampa Bay, with Tocchet and Walz as assistants behind Barry Melrose's bench.