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Torts, Melrose? Time to end guessing game

I'm in New York through next week visiting family, so this will be my last post for a bit. But now that it appears Oren Koules and Len Barrie are all but a lock to be approved as the Lightning's next owners, it seems time to address the coaching situation; not when approval comes at the June 18 board of governors meeting, but now.

It would do both the team and coach John Tortorella some good.

Consider the team, which has to make personnel decisions this summer based on what kind of style the Lightning will play. If Torts is still the coach, it will play one way, if not (and the so-far undenied rumor is that Barry Melrose is ready to jump in), perhaps it plays another. Not all players do as well in every system. As for Torts, the guy helped lead the team to the 2004 Stanley Cup title. He was coach of the year. The team went to four straight postseasons with him behind the bench, give him his freedom, if that is the plan, and give him as much time as he needs to look for a new job.

Not that Torts will be out of work for long. The Senators, Maple Leafs and Sharks have been mentioned as possible landing areas. Another job also would take Tampa Bay off the hook for the $1.3-million left for the last season of Tortorella's contract.

The point is, everything goes smoother once the elephant in the room is shooed away. As it is now, the only part of the equation with any traction are persistent rumors that Melrose, the ESPN analyst, former Kings coach and friend of Koules, is waiting in the wings.

With the ownership situation all but wrapped up, there seems no reason to wait in announcing the direction the organization wants to go.

    

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]

    

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