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Barry Melrose back behind the bench

Tampa Bay finds their new head coach

It has been 13 years since Barry Melrose has been behind a hockey bench as a head coach of a NHL team. Today his personal streak ends as he has been officially hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Melrose is well known for being the ESPN hockey analyst from the time he was hired in 1996 and for his perfectly slicked salt and pepper mullet.

As a player, Melrose was as a penalty minute magnet that played over 300 games in the big league primarily as a “goon.” As a coach, his history is not that bad. He has held the Memorial Cup (WHL), Calder Cup (AHL) and with the help of Wayne Gretzky in 1993, took the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley final in his NHL rookie coaching season.

The Kings failed to make any noise in the next two seasons, finishing both with losing records and out of the playoffs; this led to Melrose’s firing. Almost the second after his NHL dismissal, he was hired as a key element in the ESPN world. Melrose did help ESPN win an Emmy award with his charismatic Stanley Cup coverage in 1994.

One of Melrose’s famous quotes was when he was asked about the newly-built hockey arena in Newark for the New Jersey Devils. He responded with “Don’t go outside, especially if you got a wallet or anything else cause the area around the building is awful,” with a chuckle.

Of course he apologized to the owner of the Devils but also had the guts to show up in the Newark arena restaurant where he was met by many fans who had a mouth full to say to him. Again, this shows his personality; since to him, it was all in good fun.

Melrose is coming to a team that finished dead last in 2007-2008, but does get the task to make #1 draft pick Steven Stamkos a star. Vincent Lecavalier was only 14 years old last time Melrose coached and now Lecavalier is his captain and top player along with Martin St. Louis. That is it though, not much else to work with (read more in our 2008 Tampa Bay Lightning offseason analysis).

I am having a hard time understanding why Melrose would want to make his comeback with this team. There were and still are teams that have better rosters who want him behind their bench. In Tampa Bay though, Melrose is starting with a blank sheet a paper and has the power to write whatever the hell wants on it.

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He can dictate his style of practice, play and expectations to a team that has a few young guns but does not have anything to lose.

Good luck Barry. You will need it.


By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer

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