If you had under 20 games for Barry Melrose to get fired from behind the bench of the Tampa Bay Lightning; guess what?? You're a big winner. That's right, after 16 games, the Bolts fired Melrose today in favor of assistant coach Rick Tocchet.
There was a lot of hub-bub concerning Melrose this season and why the Lightning would bring him back after a hiatus of 13 years behind a NHL bench. While the Tampa brass was all about creating a buzz about the team, they certainly did that by hiring Melrose; but you wonder if by hiring him it was the demise of Melrose and the team from the start. With guys out on the market that had more recent experience than Melrose, why would they think that a guy who hasn't coached since the end of the last NHL work stoppage??
You really can't blame Melrose for this, I'm sure that he wanted more out of the team than what he got, but depending on what you take as truth; you don't know how much control Barry got of his own team. Whether you believe the stories about ownership partners coming down and diagraming plays or having more distractions than driving on the highway at 65 mph with a soda in one hand, burger in the other, while driving past a car wash with naked women.
Now, if Melrose had something more than all forwards and had something that resembled a defense, the Bolts could be in good shape and the coaching prowess of Melrose could be praised. However, with no defense, with the offense only putting up only 34 goals so far this season (30th in the league, mind you), the Bolts are doomed to fail. The only shining light is seeing that Mike Smith is a top notch goalie in the league, and would be a force if he got any help on the back end.
Let's focus on the present now, what does Rick Tocchet need to do in order to make this team as great as they want to be?? First off, he need to take control of the offense and get some production out of them. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are doing decent, but could be doing much better. Second, get a defensive system in place. If Smith and Olie Kolzig have to keep facing upwards of 40 shots a night, they will be burned out by the ASG and then they won't have the stellar performances they have had thus far in the season. Thirdly, get control of the team outright. Too many rumors of the owners and upper management being in the room and messing with some things out there. Get them out of the room, take control of the team, and get right the ship before it goes too far off course.
Only time will tell if this change will mean anything at all, but right now-- something needs to settle in Tampa or else the buzz will surrounding the team will be what they will do with their lottery pick at the Draft.