One hundred eighty four games. That’s a fairly reasonable evaluation period. It’s over two seasons worth of games, whereby you can evaluate a coach, how he handles his players, adversity, and the other trials and tribulations with which an NHL head coach must deal. Especially when you consider the turnover that is common-place on an NHL team, 184 games allows for the team to gel, and for the coach to best evaluate which players are best suited to play with which teammates.
Unfortunately for previous Tampa Bay Lightning head coach, Barry Melrose, he was not allotted such a time-frame. He was given sixteen games to work magic, and to the surprise of no one, he was unable to make lightning strike twice and couldn’t replicate the success he had with the Los Angeles Kings.
The point of this article isn’t to evaluate the job that Melrose did with the Lightning, as I wouldn’t be able to do so with such a limited pool of evidence. Rather it is to lament the sorry state of the Tampa Bay Lightning under their new ownership of Len Barrie and Oren Koules.
Since taking over the team earlier this year, nary a day has gone by where the Lightning haven’t been in the news. Whether it was winning the first overall pick, multiple free agent acquisitions, or making trades galore, the Lightning have been responsible for generating more ink than Bob Roberts has virtually used for his comments on this blog.
Unfortunately for fans of the Lightning, however many they have, it is more likely that a negative correlation exists between success and headline stealing transactions than it is to be a recipe for more wins than losses. This correlation played itself out during the first quarter of the NHL season, as the Lightning had trouble gaining victories with so many new faces in place.
Had the new owners of the Lightning been interested in allowing Barry Melrose and their franchise to succeed, they would have allowed him the time necessary to gel the team together. Instead, from the outset they submarined Barry Melrose, and any chance he had to succeed. Although I don’t know Barry Melrose, I am willing to bet that he knew, from the moment Len Barrie (allegedly) began diagramming plays for the Lightning power-play, he had no chance to succeed, and was counting down the hours until the impatience of the new owners manifested itself into the form of his firing papers.
To no one’s surprise, that occurred, and this past week, who could blame Barry Melrose for lashing out at the Lightning owners, specifically Len Barrie. His comments this week, that he hoped Tampa didn’t win a game for the rest of the year were frank, honest, and hilarious. Why would he hope for them? He was treated like dirt from the outset of his tenure, and was unable to build up any connection with the mish-mash roster of has beens, never beens, and re-treads he was handed thanks to his meddling owners.
The one silver lining to the whole debacle in Tampa Bay, is that at least they have owners who care about their franchise, unlike a few notable teams in the NHL (Nashville, Phoenix, and Florida come to mind.) Unfortunately for the aforementioned hypothetical fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning, their owners have subscribed to the ownership style of the Oakland Raiders (troublesome, meddlesome, and bothersome), than the style of the Pittsburgh Steelers (loyal, effective, and successful.)
To conclude, the random number of games I picked as a fair sample size at the beginning of this article, one hundred and eighty four, was not so random after all. Turns out that is the total number of games Len Barrie played during his “distinguished” NHL career. Some expert indeed.
For Illegal Curve, I am Drew Mindell
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