Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Vinny didn’t have Melrose fired
Posted Nov 19, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Nov 19, 2008 at 09:54 PM
All right, I’m already over having to read and hear about this situation, so I’ll try to give this my final word on the subject because to me it’s just revisionist history we’re talking about, but the story still has legs nearly a week after the fact. Even the election of Barack Obama seemed to wind down a week after he was voted into the Presidency.
OK, here’s what’s going on. I alluded to this in Sunday’s paper that now former coach Melrose went on CBC Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday and said he believed that high-profile players got him fired and that they went to ownership complaining about him. To be fair, Melrose said he takes responsibility for what took place and the players not responding to him and even when asked if he felt he was stabbed in the back, Melrose said no.
Well, from what I’ve been able to gather from conversations both on the record and those not on the record, nobody in the locker room went to ownership and asked to have Melrose fired. As well, I don’t think anybody went directly to general manager Brian Lawton and said Melrose had to go.
What the likely scenario which took place begins and ends with Lawton. I said a few ldays ago that something didn’t feel right around the locker room, something wasn’t meshing. Melrose allegedly read the riot act to the team during a practice day in Sunrise and essentially played his hand at that meeting. The players’ called his bluff, didn’t show up to play against the Panthers and two days later he was gone. Now, if I could sense something wasn’t right, imagine the feeling Lawton had being involved in it on a daily basis. He even, in hindsight, hinted at something when he spoke on several occassions about the importance of the team’s recently completed five-game roadtrip.
So Lawton saw what was going on, or sensed what was going on - and remember, Lawton wasn’t involved in any capacity in the hiring Melrose, a fact that can’t be discounted - and naturally he probably went to the players on an individual basis and privately asked them about the situation. Lawton didn’t like what he heard, gave it a chance to work itself out on the road trip and when it didn’t, went to ownership - likely Oren Koules since he has been around quite frequently of late, but probably did have conversations with Len Barrie, who joined the team in New York and Philadelphia last week - and informed then of what he thought had to be done.
Now, a report on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Hotstove segment suggested that Lecavalier is the one who went to ownership and told them a change had to be made. Vinny said it just didn’t happen.
“I didn’t do it, I don’t think anybody else did it,’’ Lecavalier said. “They went to another show after [the Hot Stove segment] and said they talked to me and that it wasn’t true, and after that I didn’t really think about it after that.’‘
A report in the Globe and Mail said Lecavalier will tell his side of the story during this week’s broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada, but Lecavalier said he’s not concerned with whatever perceptions might linger from the report, which is seen by millions each weekend during hockey season.
He said what he had to say and he went with what he thought. They weren’t facts, he just went with something he thought happened, but Oren Koules said it wasn’t true, Brian Lawton said it wasn’t true, so I’m not mad,” Lecavalier said.
Now, in my estimation, it’s time to move past this. Melrose is no longer the coach, that won’t change. And while we may never get the full story or clear picture of the actual events that took place, there’s enough information to piece together a close facsimile to the actual truth, and that may be the closest we ever get.
Here is the Hockey Night report by Al Strachan, while below is Melrose’s interview with Ron MacLean on Hockey Night’s pregame show, which if you look can tell was taped outside the WTVT, Channel 13 studios on Kennedy Blvd.