The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a busy club in the last week. On June 20 th, they did as everyone expected and drafted the NHL ready Steven Stamkos of the Sarnia Sting with the 1 st pick overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. On June 23 rd, the team announced its new 8-man ownership group led by Hollywood producer Owen Kroules and former NHLer Len Barrie. Just a day later they topped that off by announcing the hiring of Barry Melrose as the 6 th head coach of the franchise.
Melrose, 51, started his NHL playing career in 1979-1980 as a defenseman with the Winnipeg Jets. During his career, he spent time in the minors and the NHL, also playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Upon retiring as a player in 1987, he of the amazing mullet started coaching with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, winning a Memorial Cup in his first season behind the bench. After four more years in the minors (and a Calder Cup with the Adirondack Red Wings), Melrose became the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in 1992. With a little help from this guy, Melrose led the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, losing to the Montreal Canadiens in 5 games. He spent two more losing seasons with the Kings after that, then moved on to be an analyst with they who shall remain nameless.
Melrose, who seems to be just as well known for his mullet (the websites are out there) as for his playing (300 NHL games) and coaching (216 NHL games), takes over a franchise that is only 4 seasons removed from a Stanley Cup. However, after finishing with the fewest points (71) in the league last season, the Lightning decided to remove John Tortorella and insert Melrose in his place. Known for his ability to develop young talent, Melrose will be looked upon to bring along the new golden boy Stamkos and mesh his talents with those of existing players to bring the Lightning back into the playoff picture.
“I’m obviously excited to be back in coaching,” Melrose said. “I’m especially looking forward to the opportunity to work with great players such as Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos; they’re all such talented and exciting athletes. Most of all, I have missed having a dog in the fight each season, especially at the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”