Lightning's new associate coach makes the rounds at the Ice Palace.
By KEVIN KELLY
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001
TAMPA -- Craig Ramsay is not one to sit around.
"I like to be busy," he said Monday while twisting a blue cap on one of two water bottles he was holding in his other hand. "I like to do things."
On his first day as a Lightning associate coach, Ramsay toured the locker room. In doing so, he burned off a month of energy in a matter of hours -- shaking hands, introducing himself to unfamiliar people, re-acquainting himself with familiar ones and then looking for more.
"Oh, is he here?" Ramsay asked when told captain Vinny Lecavalier was sitting in the unexplored training room. "That's a good place to start."
But today is the real start for Ramsay, 49.
Tampa Bay's game against Washington will mark his first since being hired by the Lightning on Wednesday. The former Philadelphia coach will be introduced to players before the morning skate.
"Yeah, I'll be comfortable," Ramsay said. "Even 30 years into the business, I take my job very seriously. I want this team to be successful, and I realize that I have to now sell myself to another group of people."
Coach John Tortorella and general manager Rick Dudley were sold on Ramsay long ago.
He was Buffalo's assistant general manager when Dudley was coach and Tortorella an assistant during the 1989-90 season. Ramsay, who played 14 seasons in the NHL, was Dudley's teammate at Buffalo from 1972-75 and 1978-81.
"Craig has done most everything you can do in hockey," Dudley said. "Fortunately, I've been with him for much of that. He's an experienced guy who's known far and wide as a great teacher."
Ramsay was for hire because Philadelphia fired him Dec. 10 after a 12-12-4 start. But he wasn't Tampa Bay's first choice to fill the spot left open after Tortorella replaced Steve Ludzik as head coach Jan. 6. (Tortorella wouldn't say who was.)
The Lightning also wasn't the only team that called Ramsay (he wouldn't name the others), but a 10-minute conversation with Tortorella persuaded him to accept a job that had seemed like a natural fit all along.
"He's just a knowledgeable hockey guy about the game," Tortorella said. "I think he is a great teacher. He's very stable in how he approaches things. I think he's not only going to help focus guys but also our whole organization."
Ramsay's experience in Philadelphia was brief but eventful.
He filled in for then-coach Roger Neilson at the end of last season while Neilson received treatment for cancer and led the team to a 16-8-1 record. Philadelphia advanced to the the Eastern Conference final, where it lost to New Jersey in seven games.
Hired as head coach in June, he was replaced by Bill Barber after the slow start.
"It was an incredible adventure," Ramsay said. "The atmosphere in Philadelphia, it's high stress because you expect to do well and you expect to succeed."
Ramsay always found himself impressed with the Lightning, which has lost 10 of its past 11 going into tonight's game against the Southeast Division-leading Capitals.
"Speed and skill were my first impressions of Tampa Bay," Ramsay said. "They had players who could get up and down the ice. They can handle the puck. They can make the plays, and they try. I was impressed with them, and I had been previously from watching tapes of the team.
"I like the talent level. I see a real good future with the players that they've got now."