Sports Outside the Beltway

Tampa Bay Lightning fire Coach Barry Melrose

Just 16 games into the 2008-09 season, Melrose becomes the second head coaching casualty.

The Tampa Bay Lightning fired Barry Melrose after just 16 games in his return behind the bench, and associate coach Rick Tocchet will take over as interim head coach.

The Lightning, who made several key offseason acquisitions and got heralded Steve Stamkos as the top pick in the 2008 draft, announced the move Friday afternoon.

“This was a tough decision to make,” general manager Brian Lawton said. “Barry is a good man and we have a great deal of respect for him. We wish him nothing but success. However, the results were unacceptable and the players have to understand that we need to be better. Hopefully this change helps push them.”

The Lightning entered the season with high expectations, but find themselves 4-5-1 the past 10 games, including three straight losses. In the offseason, they had signed veterans Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone, Radim Vrbata, Olaf Kolzig, Adam Hall, Wyatt Smith, Gary Roberts and Vinny Prospal to help along a younger group with considerable potential.

The team has struggled despite the presence of All-Star center Vincent Lecavalier — the club’s career scoring leader who signed an 11-year, $85 million contract extension in July and was named captain in September — and Martin St. Louis, who has a team-high 12 points.

I just wrote yesterday that I couldn’t understand how anyone expected this franchise to contend for the Stanley Cup. Go read the post. I didn’t like the firing of John Tortorella either, and bringing in a coach 12 years removed from the game wasn’t a brilliant move. I think Melrose isn’t the main cause of Tampa’s problems, but the one who gets the blame for all of them.

Rick Tocchet is a interesting choice. Only 18 months ago Tocchet pled guilty to gambling charges. He’ll make it to the end of this season but if Tocchet is around next season I’ll be surprised.

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$10 says Tocchet isn’t the solution TB is looking for. If you are going to go outside the box for a coach, give him some time. Melrose isn’t a top notch guy by any means but he IS an NHL coach. Tocchet is not. Bad move.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I watched them play Detroit the other night. They are not bad per say…just not stocked with tallent.

Posted by markm | November 15, 2008 | 03:28 pm | Permalink

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