Fran Sypek, in today's Springfield Republican, says the Lightning have two front runners for the vacant Springfield Falcons coaching job which will be announced tomorrow. Former Islanders bench boss Steve Stirling and Owen Sound Attack coach Mike Stothers are said to be the favorites for the job.
Stothers may be the favorite. Prior to his three years as head coach of the Owen Sound junior program, he was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Phantoms with Bill Barber, and most importantly, for Jay Feaster's Hershey Bears for two seasons. His recent work tutoring youth at the junior level is a likely positive. His lack of head coaching experience at the pro level may be a negative. Steve Sterling was fired as head coach of the New York Islanders after holding the job for a year and a half. Prior to his stint in the NHL he was head coach of the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
According to the Springfield Republican, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Springfield Falcons will introduce the Falcons' new coach on Monday, May 22. The press conference, which is open to the public, will be hosted by Springfield GM Bruce Landon, Tampa Bay GM Jay Feaster, and Tampa Bay Assistant GM Claude Loiselle. No one in the Lightning or Falcons front offices are leaking the identity of Dirk Graham's replacement, only saying that Feaster had final say on the coach and Landon has called him "an outstanding individual."
Among the coaches speculated to be named are former Peoria Rivermen coach Steve Pleau, Owen Sound (Ontario Hockey League) coach Mike Stothers, Iowa Stars assistant Paul Jerrard, and former Falcons assistant Gord Dineen.
The press conference will be held at 1 p.m. EST at Springfield's MassMutual Center.
According to Russianprospects.com, goaltender Vasily Koshechkin has signed a new contract to play with Khimik of the Russian Superleague. The young netminder finished second in the Superleague in GAA, save percentage and shutouts last season with Lada Togliatti. Koshechkin will battle with St. Louis Blues draft pick Konstantin Barulin for starting duties with Khimik.
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is reporting the Tampa Bay Lightning is showing interest in signing Swedish World Championship team netminder Johan Holmqvist. Holmqvist, who turns 28 within the week, was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 7th round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. The 6'1" 190 lbs netminder has appeared in just 3 NHL games in his career, but was a regular AHL starter with Hartford and Houston prior to returning to Sweden to play the past two seasons with Elitserien club Brynas. Holmqvist's biggest acheivement in North American hockey came in the 2002-2003 season when he won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Fredrik Norrena posted his second shutout of the tournament today stopping all 20 shots he faced in Finland's 3-0 win over Belarus. With the win the Finns advance to the Semifinal Round to face the Czech Republic. In the other semifinal matchup, Canada will play Sweden. Both matches are scheduled for Saturday.