Norfolk rounds out coaching staff

nor_200.jpgThe Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have named Jim Johnson associate coach, Leigh Mendelson assistant coach and J.W. Aiken equipment manager of the Admirals, Lightning executive vice president and general manager Brian Lawton announced today.

"We are pleased to be able to add Jim, Leigh and J.W. to the Admirals staff for the upcoming season," said Lawton. "Collectively the group will make the organization in Norfolk much better and more efficient, helping to elevate the hockey operations staff while giving the Lightning the opportunity to better support and teach our players. Norfolk will be better this year because these three are a part of the team."

A defenseman from New Hope, Minn., Johnson followed a stellar collegiate career at the University of Minnesota with a 13-year career in the National Hockey League, playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars, Washington Capitals and Phoenix Coyotes. He appeared in 829 NHL games from 1985-1998, recording 29 goals and 166 assists for 195 points. He also represented the United States on six national teams and played in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) World Championship on four occasions – captaining the 1990 squad.

Following his retirement, Johnson spent four years with the Phoenix Coyotes as a consultant to hockey operations, broadcast analyst and assistant coach. Following his time with the Coyotes, Johnson became heavily involved in junior hockey. He served as an assistant coach for the U.S. National Junior Team at the IIHF World Junior Championships from 2000 – 2002. Johnson also worked as Director of Player Development for the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association. He is the founder of the nationally-ranked U-18 P.F. Chang’s Tier I Hockey Organization.

Last season, Johnson served as Development Coach for the Lightning, working with players throughout the Tampa Bay organization.

A native of Caldwall, New Jersey, Mendelson brings several years of coaching experience in the professional, junior and international ranks to the Admirals. He spent last season as an assistant coach for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He also was an assistant coach during the 2007-08 season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League, helping to guide them to regular season and playoff championships. He also served as an assistant coach under former Admirals head coach Mike Haviland during the 2001-02 season with the ECHL’s Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies.

Mendelson’s international experience includes time spent as an assistant coach with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program for the 2002-03 U-18 team as well as the silver medal-winning 1999 team in the IIHF Four Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic. He has also coached in the Finnish Elite League with the Heereveen Flyers from Holland and the Pelicans of Lahti, Finland. Since 1994, Mendelson has worked with USA Hockey in its summer development programs and has helped produce hundreds of NCAA athletes and several NHL draft picks.

Mendelson will specialize in strength and conditioning as well as video coaching with the Admirals.

Aiken comes to the Admirals after spending the last four seasons as head equipment manager with the Providence Bruins (AHL). A native of Groton, Massachusetts, Aiken began his professional career with one season as the head equipment manager of the Port Huron Beacons of the United Hockey League. Aiken graduated with a degree in sports management from Bowling Green State University in 2003. While at Bowling Green, Aiken spent four years of manager of the Falcons men’s hockey and baseball teams and also volunteered with the football team.