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.