"It was good for them to get another voice"
Coach Barry Melrose on Wednesday spoke about skipping Tuesday's practice and handing it over to associate coach Rick Tocchet. If you recall, the coach called a meeting before practice to talk about effort (or lack of it) especially in the first period the past two games.
He joked that goaltender Olie Kolzig's characterization of the meeting as a "scolding" was too strong.
"I don't think it was a scolding," Melrose said. "We've been together 14 games. I think I have a pretty good read on the guys now. The only thing I've asked them from Day 1 is that they are the hardest working team in the NHL every night. I'm a very easy guy to play for. I'm not a big rules guy. I don't think Integrity needs rules. I just ask them to compete every night. When we do that, we're an excellent hockey club. When we try to do it for 20 minutes. When we try to do it for 40 minutes, it costs you, and it cost us against Washington. That's not acceptable."
As for the meeting, Melrose said, "I think it was an airing from my point of view. I let everybody know where I stood with them. It wasn't a meeting to embarrass people. It was a meeting, 'This is where I see us after 14 games.' These are the guys who are buying into what I'm selling, and these are the guys who have got to buy into what I'm selling."
And, finally, on skipping practice: "It was good for them to get another voice in practice. I'll be doing that as the year goes on. I've been with these guys every day ... so it was good for them to have a practice without hearing my voice, and hearing a different voice."
Other stuff from this morning: Melrose said right wing Evgeny Artyukhin (groin) is "100 percent" and will play tonight, though he wasn't sure on what line. Artyukhin had been playing on a line with center Jussi Jokinen and Mark Recchi. But Gary Roberts has two goals and three points in his past two games on that line and is getting power play time, so expect some experimentation with Artyukhin. ... Mike Smith starts in goal. ... Left wing Ryan Malone (believed to be a groin) did not skate and will not play. ... And for all of you who caught the reference yesterday about Melrose making fun of my rental car here in Sunrise, he added this: "And I would just like to say that I'd like to see the St. Pete Times get better cars."