Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
  • Home

Thoughts on Tortorella (and other things relating to Channelside Dr.)

Posted May 31, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated May 31, 2008 at 09:21 PM

BRANDON - Wow, what a day yesterday was. I took off from Toronto just before 5 p.m. By the time my plane touched down in Memphis for a brief layover, the puck had hit the fan. I was getting text messages and voice mails left and right as soon as I landed. It really sent me into a scramble on my 40-minute layover (which had to include a chance to grab a quick bite to eat that ended up just being a smoothie and a pretzel thanks to the long lines for real food in the airport. And boy, did that Memphis Bar-B-Q smell good.)

All this scrambling had to be done with a rapidly reducing battery life on my phone that was on the verge of death just before take off. Right about now, you might say, “well Erik, maybe you should have just plugged your charging in while at the airport in Memphis!!!’’ And you would have an excellent point. But you see, I tried to fish my charger out of my suitcase when I dropped off my rental car at the airport, but after not finding it right away, I had to get to the terminal (which turned out to be another adventure) so needless to say, my phone charger was not on my person. Moral to the story, keep your charger in your carry-on bag.

OK, now, back on track. Once I landed in Tampa, I first had to find a pay phone, which again, might sound like a simple task so I could check in with the boss. I walked down to one end of the baggage claim area, but to no avail. I found one, finally, by the escalator, but of course, it was out of order. So it was another walk down to the other end of baggage claim before I found a working phone that I could actually put money into in order to make a phone call.

Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep once I got home. UGH…

Now, after finally getting my charger out of my bag and putting a quick jolt into the battery, I was able to make a phone call or two. And this is what I gathered.

As was reported in the paper today, Torts is out as head coach. Not a shock. I have a tremendous amount of respect for John Tortorella as a person and as a coach. He is the only head coach that I have worked directly with since I took over this beat at the start of the 2001-02 season. I admire his honesty. I love his passion. I think he is one of the top coaches in the game right now and he won’t have any problems finding another position, if he hasn’t already. He is going to be missed around here. He is a great salesman for the game (even though he would never want to admit to that or want to assume that role) and his charity work, especially with kids, is as good as it gets. But I also think, as he admitted when he told Jay Feaster back in April, that the locker room needs a new voice. I wish John nothing but the best in his next stop, wherever it may lead him.

This is also what I was able to surmise from conversations last night. Barry Melrose is not a done deal. No definitive offers have been made to anybody and the team is still talking to other candidates. And to clarify one other thing, no deal with Melrose, or anybody else for that matter, can be done anytime soon, and certainly not in the next couple of days. Oren Koules and his group were told by the executive board of the NHL the other day that the only issues that can be dealt with right now are those of a time sensitive manner. A head coach, is not a time sensitive matter. Nothing can be done until the board of governors meeting on June 17 in New York. So even if a deal was in place, it certainly couldn’t be announced.

Now my reaction to the Melrose news is the same as many of you guys. I’m not sold on a coach who has been behind a television camera the past 13 years, and not behind a bench. I also can’t believe that if this were to be true, that Melrose will command a $2 million annual salary - NHL coaches not named Scotty Bowman don’t make that kind of money. When Torts signed his extension before the 2005-06 season, he was one of the highest paid coaches in the league - his salary for this coming season, $1.3 million.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what transpires in the coming weeks, but changes are definitely in store. And what does this all mean for Jay Feaster? My guess is he won’t be the GM after the ownership change, but that he will stay with the organization in some capacity. He’s too intelligent about the CBA and is too strong of a spokesperson for the team and salesman of the game. It wouldn’t be a surprise that whomever takes over the president role - possibly Len Barrie? - will also be the GM, but in title only as Koules will likely be the one calling all the shots.

I’ll leave you with this note as well. Some other tidbits that came out of conversations last night - a contract extension with D Alex Picard has already been reached (again, these can’t be announced until Koules is officially in charge), an entry level deal has been reached with D Kevin Quick, a deal for Ryan Craig is nearly complete and talks with Vinny Lecavalier are on-going and would have progressed further except that Vinny’s agent, Kent Hughes, is also the agent for Luc Bourdon, the Vancover defensman who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident on Thursday. And though talks with Chris Gratton have not officially begun, it sounds like it won’t be any kind of an issue. There’s even talk of Steven Stamkos living with Chris and his family next season.

UPDATE 9:15 P.M.

One other note gang, prospect defenseman Dane Crowley is not going to be signed by tonight’s midnight deadline to have all 2006 North American draftees signed to a contract or relinquish their rights. Crowley, therefore, will become an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any other team after July 1. He was a sixth-round draft pick who finished his junior career this season with Everett of the WHL this season and then played in five games with Norfolk on an amateur tryout contract. It doesn’t mean the team is done dealing with Crowley as they are expected to continue to try sign Crowley to a two-way American League deal, which has been on the table to Crowley for a while. It just means that Tampa no longer has exclusive negotiating rights. Crowley is the team’s only 2006 draft pick who needed to be signed by tonight’s deadline.

Reader Comments

Por (matt) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Why all the negative talk about Melrose? He does have NHL experience, right? It’s not like he’s been in hiding all these years since he was coach. He’s been right in the middle of the NHL from a commentator’s point of view.  He’s a team guy, not a “me first” guy. And I would hope he isn’t the type to throw his team and organization under the bus after bad games/seasons!

How much NHL experience did Tortorella have before coming here?
A few games as an interim coach and some time as an assistant. He was no more cut out to be the Bolts coach when they hired him than Melrose is now.

Regardless who ends up the coach, the constant bashing of the new ownership by the talking heads(on the radio) in this town is atrocious.

Suggest removal

Por (Tampa Wineguy) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Torts will be to the Bolts history as Tony Dungy is to the Bucs history.

I just hope Torts doesn’t land in the SE division.

Go bolts.

Suggest removal

Por (Chris C) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Well if its NOT Melrose..then who would it be??? I cant’ think of any better coaches than Tortorella. I agree with maybe the team needing a new voice..are we going to get another Steve Ludzik after another ownership change?? It obvious Koules has a master plan and time will tell what it is..Good luck to Torts..he will be unemployed until he answers his phone.

Suggest removal

Por (Brittany) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Matt, I agree. There is so much trash talking its gotten old. We needed a new coach, no doubt about that. Melrose has been wanting a job, so what the heck. Its not like we can be worse than last place next year. Who knows, maybe Melrose is exactly what we need? He sticks up for his players and from all accounts when he was with the Kings, they loved him. He still knows what is going on today in the NHL and it isn’t like you can forget how to coach. Maybe he isn’t the most qualified, but what do we have to loose? Not a darn thing. I’m not saying he is my first choice, but is he really bad enough for some of these people to keep saying they won’t go to the games next season? I don’t think so.

Part 2 to follow…

Suggest removal

Por (Brittany) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Part 2:

Also I wish people would stop with the OK bashing too. No one can get a loan for anything, let alone a hockey franchise. The Habs had a similar thing happen and they seem to be just fine. He can’t comment because the NHL told him not to, and I’m pretty sure it would be in his best interest to listen to them. He seems to know what he wants, and when he sets his mind to something, nothing gets in his way. He knows hockey, Barrie knows hockey. We had owners who just signed the checks and look where we are now. Time for a change, and I can’t wait for a more “Hollywood” production. Tampa Bay needs to care just as much about the Bolts as they do the beloved Bucs and this is way for that to happen.

Part 3 next..

Suggest removal

Por (Brittany) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Part 3 (are these text limiters necessary? They are just annoying)

Good news on Picard (loved him at the end of the season!), Quick, Craig and Vinny (good to know he isn’t totally turned off about Torts leaving. Would be a shame to ever see him in another sweater). Also, good idea about Stammer probably living with Grats next year. He will be about as far away from home as he could get and I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much fun to live by himself. Overall, I’m pretty happy with all of this. Can’t wait to see what happens come June 17th and FA time.

Suggest removal

Por (vince) on May 31, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Brittany,Matt

thank god not everyone here buys into what a certain local talk show host thinks and the biased false propaganda he spews from his mouth,give Melrose and OK a chance,from what im seeing OK has either tried or has done most of the things so far this team has needed,a change is here,Tampa fans should be excited its a new start….

Suggest removal

Por (Mike Joyce) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Just for the record, Torts had more NHL coaching experience when he took over the Bolts than Melrose has, even now.  Melrose’s record as a player and as a coach is hardly worth bragging about.  He couldn’t take the Kings to the Stanley Cup, even with the supposedly greatest player of all time.

Even worse, no one has bad mouthed the Bolts more over the last 5 years or so than Mr. Melrose, and he wants to coach the team that he has always denigrated???

Suggest removal

Por (Billy Charlebois) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

The only thing more annoying than text limiters are people who feel it necessary to blather on and on for two, sometimes three installments. Say your piece, then shut your piehole.

Suggest removal

Por (Brittany) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Gee Billy, thanks for the informative post. Anything else you feel the need to insult me for?

Suggest removal

Por (chris) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Lightning will always be known as the 1st team JT took to the peak,probably not the last. Seems like all positions need role players, even coach. Torts was what we needed at the time & now someone else does, all the best John. Not sure about Melrose but if Torts is gone feast should too, a new start is a new start all over. Hollywood style is not necessarily bad, just probably. Hope Ok doesn’t just grab the 1st flashy thing he sees, find the role needed now.  God speed John & stay out of the SE please.

Suggest removal

Por (Ex oiler) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Come on Erik ” Get your head out of Torts Will you” So the guy won a Stanley Cup, what he did’nt do last season is what matters!  The guy just was not on board, so lets stop talking about how he will be missed and his legacy. On another point Melrose has more experience than Torts did when he came here, So give the guy a chance.  Lets face it. He cannot do any worse! Last is Last and thats what the team did was come LAST! 2M is just about right what with the price of gas and all!

Suggest removal

Por (Matt) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Mike,
You are correct in that he was an assistant in the NHL for 10 years. Thats 10 years of being an assistant without getting a head coaching job until the Bolts hired him. How good could he possibly have been? And it’s not like he was the assistant coach on bad teams either. There must have been a reason for him not to get a head coaching job until the Bolts. And I am thinking it had something to do with that attitude of his. And Melrose did take the Kings to the Stanley Cup.

My main question, What did Tortoreela ever do without a WORLD CLASS GOALIE? Look at the last 3 seasons for that answer….

Suggest removal

Por (Greg) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

When it comes down to it Torts didn’t consistently get the best out of his players, totally ignored defense, and was too stubborn to make in game adjustments. The writing been on the wall for over a year and anyone that followed the team new a change had to be made. 

As for the next coach forget about Barry Melrose I hear Don Cherry is available!

Suggest removal

Por (Mike Joyce) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Greg,

If Grapes would come here to coach, which would be a big if, he would certainly turn the place upside down.  just ask Espo, as he played for Grapes and so did a number of people who became Hall of Famers.

Don’t forget that Mike Babcock has not had his contract renewed in Detroit for next year and he is currently out coaching his Pens counterpart in the Cup Finals.

Suggest removal

Por (Greg) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I was totally joking about Cherry - he isn’t going to be coaching in the NHL again.  Oh and you can dream but there’s absolutely no chance of Babcock leaving Detroit.

Suggest removal

Por (shale) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Why the support for Melrose????  Pleae do tel me why he has not been a coaching since the early to mid-‘90’s???  There must be a reason for it, and now he is going to the next Lightning coach??  Please, lets be realistic.  Here is his coaching record…
http://www.hockey-reference.com/coaches/melroba01c.html

PART 2 to follow

Suggest removal

Por (shale) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

damn it…lost all thoughts.  Did not know that there was a character limit. 

Here is a list of qualified coaches right now along with a link to the site to see there career stats.

Ron Wilson
Joel Quenneville
Bob Hartley
Pat Quinn
Pat Burns
Paul Maurice

http://www.hockey-reference.com/coaches/

plus this does not include any deserving assistants or minor league coaches.

Suggest removal

Por (shale) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

One last note.  Do not think for a minute that Vinny is not keeping an eye on the situation as well.  As we all know, he will be an free agent after this year and if the right staff (assuming that Torts is gone) he may or may not sign a new contract.  No matter how much he loves the Tampa area.  He is no doubt a top 5 player in this league if not the best and the $$$$$$ will be on the table for that caliber type of player.

Suggest removal

Por (Mike Joyce) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Right on Shale,

There are so many, more qualified, coaches on the market at this time that Melrose shouldn’t be considered.  He was a mediocre player, then a mediocre coach and now is mediocre broadcaster - not to mention that he needs a haircut.  Why condemn the Bolts to total mediocrity?

Suggest removal

Por (shale) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

If there is an area to blame, I believe it should be the scouting department and not the coach.  After browsing around the web, I found this about the past Lightning draft choices.  Listed below is a link to all the Lighting draft picks in their history.  I see an awful lot of blanks over the past 5-7 without any NHL experience and alot of number one draft pick traded (do not know whom or what they were traded for). 

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/TBL/draft.html

If anything must go first, it has to be the crappy scouting department.

Suggest removal

Por (AJ Johnson) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

way to go Oren Klueless…  the first move of many to turn recent Stanley Cup champs into a Mickey Mouse organization as Gretzky once labeled the devils.

Melrose, nor anyone else that’s available, could hold Tortorella’s jock even if he gave them permission.

Suggest removal

Por (AJ Johnson) on June 01, 2008 (Suggest removal)

... and any of you who think of Tortorella as anything less than one of the very best coaches in the league must think that A) rascal flatts is a good band and B) they play country music.

stick to what you idiots know like shuffleboard and horse exploitation i mean “racing.”

Suggest removal

Por (earl scott) on June 02, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Koules is a “shock” movie producer….the world he lives in is not the same world we live in….we pay our hard earned $$$ to go see a game we love and support the players on that team. Koules uses “shock” to get to his audience….it is what he knows….why would he deviate from that when it has served him so well….he must think that to “sell” this team to the area fan base, and/or, make it a winner, he must “shock” it….well, Melrose WILL be that shock…but hockey is not a movie…you can script the moves and wins night after night.

Suggest removal

Por (Don) on June 02, 2008 (Suggest removal)

How about Craig Ramsey as a candidate for head coach? I like Rammer and he knows this team pretty well.

Suggest removal
Page 1 of 2 pages

Post a comment

Members:

(Requires free registration.)




Auto-login on future visits

Show my name in the online users list

Forgot your password?


Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.