Vinny denies again
Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier for the second straight day denied an accusation he was part of a player revolt that on Friday got coach Barry Melrose fired.
Melrose, himself, made the first accusation when he said in several media interviews that players who "didn't want to be accountable," but who he would not name, went to ownership and pressured for Melrose to be fired, an accusation denied by owner Oren Koules and general manager Brian Lawton. On Saturday, Hockey Night in Canada's Al Strachan said in an unsourced report, "I heard Vinny Lecavalier went in to ownership and said, 'I didn't like it under (former coach John) Tortorella. This is worse under this guy and you've got to get rid of him' "
"I didn't do it. I don't know what else to say," Lecavalier said Wednesday. Later, he reiterated, "I'm telling you, I didn't say anything. I don't think any of the guys did. He's just saying that."
Asked if he worries his reputation can be tarnished by such accusations, even if they are not true, Lecavalier said, "To tell you the truth, I don't. (Strachan) said what he had to say ... but there weren't facts."
New Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said he never heard any rumblings about a player revolt. As for accusations hurting Lecavalier's reputation, he said, "I don't think Vinny really cares. ... They're always looking for stories. With him, they're not there."
What is probably there: conversations with players as management and ownership tried to get a handle on its coaching situation. No matter what anyone says, I can't imagine either management or ownership signing off on firing a coach without first at least taking the pulse of the locker room. Does that rise to the level of a revolt or is it players just giving an honest opinion? Until somone offers proof of an organized revolt, I just don't buy it
To be fair to Strachan, he said he tried to call Vinny but had not gotten him on the phone before he went on the air. Supposedly, Vinny's side of the story will air this Saturday. I don't know what other "side" there is. Lecavalier has denied it twice. Will be interesting to see what else he has to say that he hasn't already.
I did find interesting, though, that the report said Lecavalier found it worse under Melrose than Tortorella. Obviously, someone was not around when things were at their worst with Vinny and Torts. I mean, it was so bad, Vinny asked for a trade. I know Vinny's ties to the community are a lot stronger now, but, outwardly, there was no indication Lecavalier's relationship with Melrose had soured to that extent.
Here's my plea: Melrose would not name names and Strachan's report was anonymous. If someone goes on the record with this stuff (see Tom Jones' Page 2 today), I'll listen to anything. Until then, stop forcing Lecavalier to answer to reporters while those who accuse him hide.
Stuff from practice: Left wing Ryan Malone (leg) said he believes he could play Friday against the Predators. ... Forty-somethings Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts were given the day off by Tocchet, though both worked out in the training facility at the St. Pete Times Forum. ... The third jersey will be worn Sunday against the Devils.