Archive for December 11th, 2008

Tampa Bay Owners = Mess with Bolts!

December 11th, 2008

Sure If I was a fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning I would have been excited when the new Owners came into town promising lots of change including locking up star forward Vinny Lecavalier for the future. Even the attempt at some veteran forwards like Gary Roberts who’s influence alone in the room on draft pick Steve Stampkos would be worth the pick-up by Tampa. Mark Recchi still proves to be a solid hard worker fast skating 3rd to 4th line player even at his age.

But what in the hell were the owners thinking when they went out and hired Barry Melrose to coach the hockey team?. It had been 13yrs since Melrose had been near an NHL bench aside from the 13 yrs he spent in the media working as a very well paid analyst of the game.

There is NO one else to blame for the move of the Melrose hiring other than ownership. Why would anyone in their right hockey mind spend all that doe purchasing the team and then going out and locking up Vinny, to only then go out and get a coach that has not coached a game in 13 yrs?

Pure cocky, arrogance on their part, that same cocky arrogance that got American Born loud mouth and now TSN analyst John Tortorella fired from the Bolts. The owners said at the time the players held a party to celebrate Tortorella’s firing from the team. But even the loud mouth would be laughing now at the record and performance of his old team in Tampa.

Boyle Needed to Stay

The worst player move without a doubt was the ownership decision to trade Dan Boyle! Boyle has gone on to the first place San Jose Sharks and has been nothing short of an all star and best defenseman. You simply cannot replace Boyle’s skating, puck handling/moving skills on the back end including power play or even strength. Tampa was crazy to get rid of Boyle and not to mention the Boyle contract was why they had to trade Brad Richards in the first place. Goalie Mike Smith has played very well since coming over from the Dallas Stars in the Richards deal, but Richards has done what he has always done, put up solid numbers too. So that makes that trade a wash, how much further ahead would the Bolts be with Dany Boyle quarterbacking the PP? Well look no further than the Sharks power play and Boyle’s contribution there. This move was nothing short of a joke !

Coaching and Management

Ownership dropped the ball here and they are to blame for this mess that is the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had good intentions at the start but that calculated error on coaching has started their time with this franchise off on the wrong skate: so to speak. It’s time now to fix it, how to fix it after the disaster is the question now? First off they need to hire with no disrespect to Rick Tocchet, who was a great gritty hard working player, and without question a useful asset as asst coach. But this team needs an experienced head coach to turn this ship around. That is just for starters, second they need to be very careful with whoever is doing their player evaluations whether that is the owners or new GM former player agent Brian Lawton. The fact is that some of their free agent signings have been a disaster ( hello Vrbata contract) There has to be a stable hockey mind in this organization to get them out of this mess that the owners created with good intentions but bad decisions.  Two of the most important key area’s in building a team is coaching and defense. It’s not enough to have one of the legit superstars in the game in Lecavalier obviously! Look no further than Tampa’s record and performance.

Melrose Comments

Melrose, who was fired on Nov. 14 just 16 games into a three yr deal, did an interview with Toronto sports radio 590 the Fan on Tuesday, Melrose had lots to churp about on how things transpired leading up to the day he was canned by ownership.

“Basically I had guys in Tampa that wanted to run the team and I wouldn’t let them,” Melrose said . “I was hired to coach and I coached and I wasn’t playing the right guys, I was playing certain guys too much and wasn’t playing other guys enough and every day was a constant battle and the guys in charge decided they wanted to coach and they got rid of me. That’s what it comes down to. Obviously it wasn’t a hockey decision because it’s not like they’re setting the world on fire since they got rid of me. It was a decision because I was running the thing and that’s the way I am. Now they’ve got guys in charge who let them do what they want and obviously that’s not working out very well either.”

“I take it personal, to be honest, I’m not a puppet,” Tocchet said. “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.”

Melrose was also very critical of  1st rounder Steve Stamkos, who never played more than 14 minutes a night under Melrose and was averaging less than 12 minutes ice a game.

“He only played 12 minutes last night and I was playing him more than that so obviously that thing has gone out the window also,” Melrose said. “Steven’s not ready for the NHL. Steven is going to be a good player, right now he’s just not strong enough physically to play against defenseman that are 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4 who can skate as good as him. I think he’s a minus-10 or minus-11, he just can’t check in his own end well enough. I’m not sure he’s not going to be a winger when he ends up being a good NHL player because Steven is a shooter. Anyone who has seen him play in junior knows he’s got a great shot; I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on the wing later in his career. Right now Steven is not a great NHL player by any stretch of the imagination.”

What a mess! Now it’s time to clean it up!

For Hockey God I’m Dave Frost