The team confirmed today that Torts will not coach the Lightning anymore. Word is, once the Lightning's new ownership is handed the keys to the franchise later this month, ESPN analyst and former LA Kings coach Barry Melrose will take over behind the bench.
Tortorella has one year left on his contract, so he's getting paid regardless. Any team that would like to talk to Tortorella -- hey, Jacques! -- would have to get permission from the Lightning. Don't know if that would be granted to Florida since the two share a division, although that is pure speculation on my part.
Here's what Jay Feaster had to say in a statement:
“This has been a very difficult decision because of everything that John Tortorella has meant to and done for this organization,” Feaster said. “Torts came to Tampa and not only built the foundation under our club but he also changed the culture and raised the expectations, eventually leading us to the Stanley Cup in 2004. What he accomplished during his tenure in Tampa was nothing short of remarkable and our organization will always owe him our thanks, gratitude and deep respect.
“At the same time, we need to look to the future of the both the club and the organization, and we must make decisions with the future in mind. John was entering the final year of his contract and extending his contract was not a viable option. Having him enter and coach the season in a lame duck status was not something I was prepared to recommend to ownership.
“John Tortorella is a very good hockey coach and an even better person. By making this decision now, both the existing and incoming ownership groups are attempting to give John every opportunity to pursue the numerous head coaching vacancies that exist throughout the League. We thank John for his many years of loyal and dedicated service to our franchise and our community and we wish him and his family every continued personal and professional success.”