By JIMMY GOLEN
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 27, 2006; 10:36 PM
BOSTON -- Mike Sullivan was fired Tuesday after two seasons as coach of the Boston Bruins, incoming general manager Peter Chiarelli's first major move with the team. No replacement was announced.
The Bruins finished last in the Northeast Division last season. In 2003-04, Sullivan's first season, they lost in the first round of the playoffs. But former general manager Mike O'Connell chose not to retain many veterans during the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, a decision that helped lead to his firing March 25.
He was replaced with Chiarelli, who has been assistant GM in Ottawa and can't take over the Bruins until July 15. Because of the unusual arrangement, Chiarelli decided to talk with possible replacements before deciding whether to keep Sullivan.
"Peter had not met Mike prior to coming to Boston and he felt that it was incumbent upon him to get to know Mike before making a decision on the coaching situation," said assistant GM Jeff Gorton, who has been running the team since O'Connell was fired.
"Mike went to Ottawa a couple of weeks ago and they had a good discussion about the game and how it needed to be played in order to have success. Peter advised Mike that he would be talking to other candidates. He went through that process and his decision was that at this time we are better served to have a clean slate."
Team spokeswoman Heidi Holland said Sullivan didn't want to comment Tuesday.
Chiarelli was hired to a four-year contract on May 26 and held his first news conference in Boston five days later. Sullivan watched from the back of the room.
Awaiting his fate is an "awkward" situation, Sullivan said then. "I'm anxious to have that conversation with Peter. ... I also understand that it's a necessary part of the business, and the reality is when you don't have success change is inevitable."
The 37-year-old Sullivan succeeded O'Connell to become the 26th head coach in Bruins history. O'Connell had taken over late in the 2002-03 season after Robbie Ftorek was fired. O'Connell added Sullivan, who was head coach at Boston's AHL team in Providence, as an assistant coach.
That had been Sullivan's only season at Providence, where he went 41-17-9-4. After Boston's season ended, he returned to Providence for the AHL playoffs.
After playing four seasons at Boston University, Sullivan turned pro in 1990 with San Diego of the International Hockey League. O'Connell was his coach there.
Sullivan joined the NHL with San Jose in 1991-92, the start of an 11-year playing career in which he had 54 goals, 82 assists, 136 points and 203 penalty minutes in 709 games. Sullivan also played for Calgary, Boston, Nashville and Phoenix. He retired after the 2001-02 season.