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Lightning fires minor-league coach
By TOM JONES
Published April 18, 2006
The Lightning on Monday fired Dirk Graham as coach of its top minor-league affiliate, Springfield of the American Hockey League, after two seasons. He has a year left on his contract and will be offered another job in the organization.
The Lightning also did not exercise the contract option of assistant Phil Russell.
Under Graham, Springfield went 24-47-3-6 and 28-43-3-6 and missed the playoffs both seasons. This season, Graham was hamstrung because the Lightning called up his three best players - forwards Ryan Craig and Evgeny Artyukhin and defenseman Paul Ranger - for most of the season.
"Dirk Graham is one of the finest gentlemen I have ever had the privilege of working with; not just in professional hockey, but working with period," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. "Our record the past two years in Springfield ... reflects an organizational failure."
Feaster said he will begin a "comprehensive and exhaustive search process" for a new coach after the Lightning's season ends.