That Didn't Take Long
Wanna know why Barry Melrose got fired after only 16 games?
'Cause it's not 1993 anymore.
The league has changed in so many ways since Melrose coached the L.A. Kings to the Stanley Cup final, and one of the major ways in which it has changed is that players work 12 months a year to stay in shape and coaches and GMs work just as hard, or harder.
Unfortunately for Melrose, being a pal of one of the owners - Oren Koules - turned out to not be good enough once it became clear he wasn't prepared to put in the basic time and hours to be a successful head coach.
Just this week, Melrose took a day off from practice, suggesting the team needed not to hear from him for a day.
Last night, after the club blew a 2-0 lead to lose at home to Detroit, he gave the players AND the coaching staff a full day off on Friday.
In today's NHL, that's inexcusable. Now, he'll have all the time off he needs.
It didn't help Melrose that early in the season he was very reluctant to give much ice time to prize rookie Steven Stamkos when GM Brian Lawton made it very clear that he wanted Stamkos to play lots of minutes.
Lawton didn't hire Melrose, and when he began to believe the team wasn't prepared, or at least the coaches weren't, he went to Koules and co-owner Len Barrie and asked for permission to fire Melrose.
It's the second bold move of the week for Lawton, who wasn't officially named GM until September and has been aggressively unwinding some of the moves that were made between the time ex-GM Jay Feaster was fired and his ascension to GM, some of which were personally organized by Koules and Barrie.
Last week he dealt defenceman Matt Carle and his four-year, $13.75 million contract to Philly for rearguard Steve Eminger and winger Steve Downie. Carle had been the centrepiece of the package the Bolts had received from San Jose for defenceman Dan Boyle during the summer.
While the firing of Melrose is extraordinary, as newsworthy is the hiring of Rick Tocchet as head coach. Tocchet was banned from the NHL while working as an assistant coach in Phoenix in 2006 for his involvement in a New Jersey betting ring. Tocchet eventually pleaded guilty to felony gambling charges and was reinstated by the league last February.
After the Coyotes had stood by him during his two-year absence from the NHL, it was surprising when Tocchet agreed to join Melrose's staff in Tampa last summer.
Before his involvement with Operation Slapshot, Tocchet had been considered a prime candidate for an NHL head coaching job. Now, he gets his chance.