Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hey Melrose - In the Immortal Words of John Tortorella - SHUT YOUR YAP!

By JC De La Torre

So Barry Melrose went on another tirade against his former employer the Tampa Bay Lightning (again). Apparently Melrose is concerned his name hasn't been mentioned in the press for the last month so he wants to get it back out there while he waits to slink back to the four letter network where hockey is understood about as much as chess. Melrose again said some nasty things about co-owner Len Barrie (without naming names), Rick Tocchet, the players and in particular young Steven Stamkos. I'm not giving him a pass on this one.

Melrose, perhaps trying to explain why he is still whining a month after his dismissal, actually told the St. Petersburg Times, "I'm a name in hockey and Tampa made a big splash with all the stuff they did. When you do that, and when things don't work out, you become a big story."

Folks, there - in the mountain of bullshit that Melrose threw at the Lightning - lies the truth as to why he failed in Tampa Bay. Melrose is an egotistical a-hole. Its obvious. He expected to waltz in with his Conference Championship ring (delivered to him by the Great One) and decades of being an ESPN expert and expected the players to kiss his ass. He expected the ownership to follow his every word and stay out of the hockey side. He expected to never be questioned when he didn't put in a system in training camp, when his hockey team had no idea what they were doing offensively or defensively or when the players stopped playing for him because they knew he was a frickin' joke as a coach.

No, the Lightning have not let the world on fire after Melrose' firing....because they lost a training camp and the first month of the season by making a horrible decision of hiring a guy who had been out of hockey for so long that most of his players' parents barely remember him as a coach.

Melrose continues to harp on interference from ownership and lack of acceptance from the players. Perhaps if he had checked his ego at the door and understood that hockey has changed a lot since the last time he coached he could have taken some input from others in the organization and would have been able to adjust accordingly. Hockey isn't just "throw you're talented guys on the ice, give them a rah-rah speech and it should be enough to win games" anymore. Melrose was never an X's and O's coach and it was painfully evident with the Lightning players because on the ice they appeared hesitant and confused most of the time. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup under John Totorella because they had a system. The Red Wings are the Red Wings not only because they have some of the best players in the world, but because they have a solid SYSTEM that puts those players in the position to succeed. New Jersey has been a Cup contender for a decade not only because of the players that have gone through their complex but the system they play.

"I'm in the TV business now," Melrose told the Times, "I can't say no comment. I'm not going to duck questions. I'm not going to lie. That's one of the things ESPN likes about me. I'm a TV analyst. I have to look at it from a different perspective."

Exactly, Barry - that means you need to be impartial. Right now railing against the Lightning is not objective solid journalism, it's childish "its not my fault" finger pointing. It shows the world why you failed miserably and why you're a fraud as a TV analyst. The truth is Barry Melrose knows little about today's hockey and he doesn't dare admit that or there's no reason for ESPN to have him. Notice none of the Canadian hockey outlets were falling all over themselves to add him to their line up. They know hockey and only misguided ESPN believes he's worth a puck. At least John Tortorella has a gripe against the organization....I mean, he's a Stanley Cup winning coach, the winningest coach in Lightning history and they fired him for THIS CLOWN? Its no wonder Tortorella called them a joke.

To Rick Tocchet's credit, he stood up for the organization, "I wasn't with Barry every day. But I never was in meetings with him where he said they called him and said you have to play certain guys certain minutes. Like any organization, you have discussions about players. … Nobody has got a walkie-talkie saying, 'Hey, Barry, put this guy on the ice.' "

Melrose's attack included a shot at Tocchet, ""The guys in charge decided they wanted to coach. … Now they've got guys in charge who let them do what they want."

"The only reason I'm commenting on this is it was insinuated I was told what to do," Tocchet told the Times, "I'm not a puppet or told what to do by ownership. I'm the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The decisions are made by me as to who is on the ice with the help of my great hockey staff."

If the guys in charge wanted to coach, they would be coaching right now. They don't want to coach, they wanted someone that wanted to be part of an organization, not be Atillah the thickheaded "I know it all" hockey coach.

"I take it personal, to be honest, I'm not a puppet,'' Tocchet told the Tampa Tribune, "Ownership doesn't tell me who to play, they have been very supportive of me, I have a great coaching staff that helps me make decisions and we're making strides now. This is our training camp right now. We're trying to get our systems into place, and we now have a system.''

We won't dignify Melrose's attack on Steven Stamkos or the rest of the players, who are struggling to learn Tocchet's system (hey, how bout that Barry, a SYSTEM) and are fightning their butts off for him every night. Basically, the Lightning are having their second training camp NOW and its going to take some time. What's frustrating is if they could just get a win, that may break the dam of negativity and begin the turn around.

Of course, that would ruin Barry's day, "I hope that Tampa Bay doesn't win a game the rest of the year." Nice. Great way to re-start your career as career as an objective TV anaylst there, Bare.

I know its asking a lot because there's no one in Bristol that knows a thing about hockey (other than what Barry Melrose has told them), but I'm hoping somebody at the four letter network gets a clue that Barry Melrose is a sham.

The best thing Barry can do for himself is take the advice that John Tortorella gave to another coach a few years ago - shut his yap about Tampa Bay. Just give your two or three minutes of "NHL analysis" in the backside of Sportcenter stuck between curling and woman's volleyball and we'll all be better for it.

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