Saturday, May 31, 2008

Melrose Place

I don't say things like this very often, but...

The fact that the incoming Tampa Bay ownership — an underfunded group that is relying on cobbled together funds and financing from the ones getting out of Dodge — is going to fire the coach that led the team to the Stanley Cup and put in a media personality who hasn't coached in 13 years is, quite possibly, the most asinine thing I've ever heard.

The Lightning is set to become the very expensive new play thing of Hollywood producer Oren Koules and real estate developer/former NHLer Len Barrie, and it appears it's going to be treated as such. Financing, as I mentioned, is an issue, which makes it curious that this group's first decision will be to flush John Tortorella's $1.3-million salary down the drain and serve up a ridiculous new contract for talking head Barry Melrose.

Tortorella, of course, will be snapped up right away by the Sharks, Senators, Maple Leafs, Thrashers or Panthers, while Melrose will have a steep learning curve given the advancements in NHL coaching the past decade-plus. Being Koules's buddy is apparently the main qualification.

The most troubling part of all this is the fact that ownership plans to pull all of the strings, leaving current GM Jay Feaster as little more than a well-paid puppet and Tortorella a lame duck of the worst kind, simply waiting for an NHL board meeting to rubber stamp the purchase so the yahoos can throw him out.

This is a franchise that already finished in dead last in the NHL in 2007-08, and with an over-anxious ownership group taking over, a real rebuild is going to be difficult to undertake. There aren't the funds available to overcome major losses or spend to the cap, an inexperienced coach is taking the helm, and Steve Stamkos is about to be thrown to the wolves.

If I'm Vinny Lecavalier, there's no way I sign long term after this season.

Eric Duhatschek doesn't use the phrase "gong show" regularly, but that's what he called the Tampa situation earlier this week and it's tough to disagree.

I'm afraid all of the goodwill that the 2004 Stanley Cup bought the market is about to be for naught.

Fans of the Lightning are in for a bumpy ride.

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At 8:29 a.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come home.
We will take very good care of you.
Bob Gainey and George Gillet.

At 11:50 a.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patience, Canadiens.

He still has one year left - after a season with dysfunction, the Montreal fishbowl will seem tranquil by comparison.

Poor Steve Stamkos. :(

At 11:54 a.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice the expression on Stamkos's face when the Lightning won the lottery?
To paraphrase the late Sam Kinison,
Stamkos had "A face like he envied the dead."
He can always pull a Lindros.

At 2:52 p.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous jkrdevil said...

Well Torterella needed to go as coach. He's a great coach but he wore out his welcome and from outside observations it seems the team tuned him out awhile ago.

That said I agree bringing in Melrose is the wrong move. Like Duhatschek said it gives the team a gong show feeling. If things go badly under Melrose the fans leave because then it seems that the ownership is incompetent. When the fans have that feeling anywhere but Toronto and MSG they leave.

Tampa does need Melrose and his minor celebrity. They have Lecavalier, a true superstar, and will have Stamkos. If Mike Smith plays well in goal and the can upgrade the defense (a full year of Boyle will help) that team should compete once again for a playoff spot.

No need to bring in a coach who has been out of the game for 13 years and can drive fans away.

At 2:56 p.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fonzie well past his best-before date. Like by about two years. What other coach survives a last place finish? Come on.

At 4:59 p.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous TJ said...

If financing is an issue, why on earth would the league approve the sale? I'd think the last thing they want is owners that can't afford to compete in the league. Also, what does it say about Balsille that they'd take these underfunded clowns over him?

At 5:08 p.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one can't play, he coaches, if one can't coach, he comments. I think Melrose will prove this ol' adage's veracity.

What's next? Anyone looking to hire P-Mac? Because that's the day I stop watching hockey.

At any rate, as a Flyers fan, I grew to hate Torts. Or, as Clarkie called him, "The Great Tortellini." But love him or hate him, I've always respected his fire and his animosity. Though it's not surprising why that same fire and animosity lead Vaclav Prospal to talk about putting things up his butt.

Talk about an unstable situation in Tampa.

At 5:28 p.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's like they're trying to position themselves to have both Stamkos and Tavares in Bolts unis next season.

At 11:13 p.m., May 31, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Has someone made a joke about a team hiring Don Cherry? Now seems the most appropriate time I can recall.

Maybe the new owners are just being clever, and don't want a real NHL coach to muck up their chance to land John Tavares.


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