Nick Vitucci wants to shut down the roller coaster.
And yesterday afternoon at the Sports Arena, Storm vice president and general manager Mike Miller announced that the ECHL club had re-signed Vitucci to a one-year contract. The deal also includes a one-year team option. Financial terms were not disclosed.
One year after finishing on top of the standings with 104 points, Toledo missed the Kelly Cup playoffs last season, dropping to 57 points. Since qualifying for postseason play during the first eight seasons of its existence, the Storm has rotated between out of and in the playoffs each of the past five years.
“We re a team that s rich and proud in tradition,” said Vitucci, 36. “It seems like we have a good year, a bad year, a good year, a bad year. We ve got to get this set up like Peoria and the other good teams where we can be consistent from one year to the next and not go through the peaks and valleys.”
Miller said he was impressed by the deals Vitucci suggested and then pulled off, adding they were a major factor in his decision to retain him. Toledo is expected to begin receiving those owed players - believed to include the return of the rights to Morten Ask, Paul Ballantyne, Alexandre Jacques, Nick Parillo and Doug Teskey, along with additional skaters - in the next two to three weeks.
“He was proactive,” Miller said. “That s my style and I was pleased to see him take the bull by the horns and help us move the organization back to where it belongs among the league s elite teams.
“I considered other people, but I just became more and more impressed with Nick s work ethic. I got a good feeling day after day. He was the guy that deserved the job.”
Vitucci, who at this time will not have an assistant coach, is counting on future considerations he maneuvered last season, and the return of several traded players, to form the Storm nucleus for 2004-05.
“Not only are we going to add some very talented players, but Toledo-style players, an in-your-face brand we did not have on a consistent basis last year,” Vitucci said. “We re getting some good hockey players, guys who have a tradition of winning. That s infectious.”
Contact Dan Saevig at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.