Melrose separates himself from Torts
Even if it wasn't intentional, new Lightning coach Barry Melrose made a clear distinction between himself and former Lightning coach John Tortorella. It was subtle, and if you haven't been following closely, you might have missed it, but buried deep within the string of interviews Melrose did Tuesday was this little gem:
"I treat them with respect," he said of his players. "I'll never embarrass a player of mine, but I tell them don't embarrass me by not playing hard. Once we get those facts straightened out and we're on the same page, guys will enjoy playing for me. You don't have to be hated to be a good coach."
Said star center Vinny Lecavalier in response: "I like that. That's a great philosophy."
After Tortorella was fired, Lecavalier said some of Tampa Bay's younger players had not handled well Tortorella's tirades. The older players, well, they understood what Torts was about, but defensemen such as Mike Lundin and Alex Picard might have been playing not to make mistakes rather than to make a difference.
Considering Tampa Bay expects to get a lot younger this season, what with Mike Smith and Karri Ramo likely holding down the goaltending duties, and 18-year-old Steve Stamkos anchoring the second line, and the defense apparently not going to get tweaked much, Melrose was brought in to set a different tone.
Melrose is known as a communicator and a motivator. He's not much with X's and O's, apparently, but he knows how to relate to players, and that might be the best thing for a team that needs its youth to perform.
Melrose said he is going to give his top players the freedom to use their imagination on the ice. Tortorella wanted that as well. But it sounds like Melrose will give the younger players more of a chance to grow without worrying about the hammer constantly coming down on their heads.