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Barry Melrose fired

Posted Nov 14, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Nov 14, 2008 at 05:34 PM

From the the team:

Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Barry Melrose has been relieved of his duties and Associate Coach Rick Tocchet has been elevated to interim head coach, Executive Vice President & General Manager Brian Lawton announced today. Melrose, 52, was named the sixth head coach in Lightning history on June 24, and compiled a 5-7-4 record this season.

“This was a tough decision to make,” Lawton said. “Barry is a good man and we have a great deal of respect for him. We wish him nothing but success.  However, the results were unacceptable and the players have to understand that we need to be better. Hopefully this change helps push them.

“As for Rick Tocchet, we think this is a great opportunity for him and we believe he’s the type of coach who can take the team to the next level. Our players have a great deal of respect for him.”

Tocchet is in his 25th year in the NHL as either a player or a coach. He played 18 seasons with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and Phoenix, appearing in 1,144 career games and recording 440 goals, 952 points and 2,972 penalty minutes.  He also appeared in 145 playoff games and netted 52 goals with 112 points and 471 penalty minutes.

Shortly after retiring in 2002, Tocchet joined the Colorado Avalanche as an assistant coach.  He spent a season and a half on the bench with the Avalanche before joining former teammate Wayne Gretzky as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005. He was named associate coach of the Lightning on July 9, 2008.

Tocchet is one of two players in the history of the NHL to record 400 goals or more and at least 2,500 penalty minutes.  He recorded three 40-goal seasons, two 30-goal seasons and was an 11-time 20-goal scorer. In 1992-93 he set career highs for goals with 48, assists with 61 and points with 109 with the Penguins.  Internationally, Tocchet represented Canada at the 1990 and 1991 World Championship as well as in the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments.


The Scarborough, Ontario native won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 and appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals with Philadelphia in 1987.  He was selected to four NHL All-Star teams (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993). Originally drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth-round, 125th overall, at the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Tocchet began his career with the Flyers in 1984-85 and retired midway through the 2001-02 season, also with Philadelphia. 

Melrose spent three seasons (1992-95) as the head coach in Los Angeles, leading the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 1993. Melrose began his coaching career in 1987 when he led the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers to a 44-22-6 record and the Memorial Cup title. Melrose also coached the Seattle Thunderbirds for the 1988-89 season and the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League for three seasons (1989-92). Melrose guided the Red Wings to the Calder Cup championship in 1991. Prior to joining the Lightning, Melrose served as NHL studio analyst for ESPN and ESPN2.

Reader Comments

Por (victoria) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Can i have the job as coach? Maybe a little girl ranting and questioning of manhood will wake them up? I don’t blame the coach for where they are right now but our defense is failing again. We have too many talented forwards who don’t have enough chemistry flowing.

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Por (Robert Wyatt) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

How can you fire a coach after 16 games? These new owners are out of control!!! Boycott the Lightning!!!

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Por (John Nix) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I was just getting my Mullet grown out and I have 10 pinstripe suits on order.

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Por (Michael J Rollins) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

The Matt Millen Effect comes to Tampa. The Forwards don’t put forth very much effort, so a man loses his job.

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Por (Chris C) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

He never had a chance!
Come on owners…let the team settle a bit.
How many players have come and gone

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Por (James gorman) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

My goodness. To fire a guy so quickly leads me to wonder what is going on?
How do you judge a guy after just 12 games?

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Por (Kevin) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Take a clue from the Rays about how to develop a team and what a little patience can do.  I’m a big hockey fan but could never get into the Lightning in four years of living here, and now am turned off for good.  Their ownership clearly don’t know anything about running a team.

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Por (Big-B) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Hah…I just said to my friend last night “I wonder if Melrose will be fired before mid-season”.  The team just looks out of sorts and without direction.  They don’t move the puck well and always seem to be chasing.  There’s alot of talent on this team, they just need to be told what to do instead of “Play Harder”.  Oh, and get some decent defensemen to help your goalie!

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Por (Mike) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)


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Por (hockeyWA) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

The CATASTRO**CK known as the Tampa Bay Lightning…..continues.  This team is like a train wreck. Nothing but former players, coaches and fans strewn about.

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Por (Randall Buschmann) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

If the Lightning play with passion and intensity and turn their season around, this will prove to be the right move. If they continue playing as they have been for most of this season, than it will prove to be a mistake. I’m hoping for the former not the latter. I want to be able to honestly say, goodbye and good riddance Melrose…not think our management just fired him for the sake of firing him. maybe we’ll actually see some inspired play from Radim Vrbata..what an awful signing that has been so far. 10 games, 2 assists.

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Por (peter szetela) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

So…what’s Torterella up to these days? Guess it wasn’t his fault, after all, eh?

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Por (Mike) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

To all complaining that it was “too fast”, please look at the Caps last year.

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Por (Hardhat0038) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Bad Move… seriously.

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Por (Lou C) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

So fire Barry, do you really think he is the trouble. I see a bunch of players that don’t show me much. They don’t have any fire under them. I don’t think anyone can get this bunch of losers to play good. They just don’t seem to give a damn. That is how I SEE IT!! Two coaches and same old bunch of low class players!!!

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Por (Terry Herbert) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

What kind of an orgination is this? How can you judge someone after 16 games? How can Tocchet be any better? It’s amazing this franchise won a Stanley Cup.

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Por (Joe Black) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Wow, this is not a good sign.  This summer when they should have trimmed branches they took out 75% of the tree an expected it to flourish.  When it didn’t they chopped the top, and now it’s left for dead.

Changes that deep require a full season, it’s ridiculous to expect better results in this situation.  Too bad Barry got suckered into leaving a fantastic job for a clusterf#$@.  Where’s my refund!

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Por (david brown) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

if you watched the game last night you would have seen no backing from melrose on some of the outlandous calls made against his players,im sorry but hes not a playerfriendly coach,you cant have support from your players if you dont support them,good ridance and yes like most ppl said why the ^%(^ didthey hire him in the first place

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Por (Rich) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

This ownership group is obviously a joke as suspected from the getgo when they couldn’t come up with the coin to sit at the table. Somewhere Torts is laughing his pucks off.

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Por (R. H. Powers) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Bring back Torts !

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Por (Kathleen) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Two words: whoo hoo!

Interesting, by the way, how all of these folks from other places poop on the Lightning but seem to pay follow them in the news.  Must not be too much happening in their own catastroph***ing states.

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Por (Joe Clay) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Have any of you people watched the games? It’s obvious the players no longer respected Melrose. He didn’t respect them. He constantly called out the star players, who were doing their jobs, and they got tired of it and gave up.

Melrose didn’t even argue any of the calls in the games. He always just stood there looking nervous like he didn’t belong. He never showed any passion, why should the players?

Tocchet and the other assistants always talked to the players on the bench. He might as well have had the job from the start. At least now he’ll have the authority too.

Good riddance. Melrose’s system was outdated—where was the “puck possession?” He should have stayed at ESPN, where he, somewhat, knew what he was talking about.

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Por (chris curran) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Grow your mullet back out, and go find your teleprompter.. I hear Telemundo is hiring!

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Por (Jason Harlow) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Ding dong the witch is dead! This is the best news I have seen all day!

I say bring Torts back.. at least he had passion for the game and wasn’t afraid to stand up to bad officiating, not to mention his press conferences were much more entertaining! smile

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Por (Sarah) on November 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

This team was completely dismantled.  Only 3 or 4 players remain from the Stanley Cup group.  All the new faces &  no time for chemistry leads to disfunction.  Throw in new owners & coaches & the older players are now in the midst of unsettling chaos.  Owners made these decisions to try to bring flash to a solid team.  It failed for now, but don’t fault the players.  They were thrown into this mess by new owners who wanted instant gratification via poor decision making.  Brad Richards = first mistake.  Keeping Feaster as long as they did = second.  Firing Torts = third.  Hiring Melrose b/c he is a friend of the owner, final straw.  Good job “CLUELESS”.  You managed to RUIN years of building.  If it isn’t broke, why mess with it?

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