Former Minnesota Duluth defenseman Jim Johnson took over as head coach of the Norfolk (Va.) Admirals of the American Hockey League earlier this season and then became an assistant with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 24. He was put back in charge at Norfolk on Saturday as the Admirals push to make the Calder Cup playoffs. Here’s a release from Tampa Bay:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned assistant coach Jim Johnson to the position of head coach of the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. The move comes as the Admirals are one of four teams battling for three spots in the push for the Calder Cup playoffs. Norfolk trails Wilkes Barre-Scranton by three points and are two points behind Bridgeport as well as Lowell though they have a game in hand on each team. The Admirals are currently in Binghamton for a 7:05 p.m. game tonight.
“I am extremely excited to get back behind the bench tonight for the Admirals,” said Johnson. “We have a great group of players in Norfolk and I am excited to get there with them as we push towards making the playoffs.”
Leigh Mendelson, who served as head coach after Johnson joined the Lightning, will return to assistant coach while Ben Eaves returns to the position of strength and conditioning-video coach.
A native of New Hope, Minn., Johnson was named assistant coach of the Lightning on February 24, 2010. He served in that role for 17 games. Johnson was previously named head coach of the Admirals on January 16, 2010, after beginning the season as the team’s associate coach. Once taking the reins of the Admirals, Johnson gave the team a newfound fire and direction, leading them to a 13-2-2 record during his 17 games behind the bench. The Admirals improved from 17-23-2 and seventh in the AHL’s East Division to 30-25-4 and third place in the East Division, firmly entrenched in the playoff race, with Johnson as head coach.