Melrose: "I hope that Tampa Bay doesn't win a game the rest of the year.''
Former Lightning coach Barry Melrose continued his verbal assault on the organization Tuesday, telling a Toronto radio station that he hopes the Lightning doesn't win another game this season and that first overall pick Steven Stamkos is not ready for the NHL.
In an interview with Don Landry and Gord Stellick on The Fan 590-AM, an all-sports talk radio station in Toronto, Melrose, who was fired after going 5-7-4 in 16 games, blasted Lightning management and players. He said he was fired because he would not let ownership and management run the team.
"Basically I had guys in Tampa that wanted to run the team and I wouldn't let them,'' Melrose said. "I was hired to coach and I coached. ... (But according to management) I wasn't playing the right guys and I was playing certain guys too much and I wasn't playing other guys enough. Every day was a constant battle. Finally, the guys in charge decided they wanted to coach and they got rid of me. That's what it comes down to. Obviously, it wasn't a hockey decision because it's not like they've set the world on fire since they got rid of me. ... Now they've got guys in charge that let them do what they want. And obviously that's not working out very well either.''
The Lightning is 1-6-4 since Melrose was fired and replaced by Rick Tocchet. When asked if it makes him feel "glee'' that the Lightning continues to struggle, Melrose dropped his most bitter comments.
"I'm not going to lie to you, yeah it does,'' Melrose said. "And any coach that says it doesn't is a liar. I hope that Tampa Bay doesn't win a game the rest of the year. But now saying that, there are couple of guys -- I actually like (owner) Oren Koules. I think Oren is a good guy. I think Oren is good for the NHL. He's putting his heart and soul into this team. I actually hope he does well.''
Melrose purposely avoided talking about co-owner Len Barrie and GM Brian Lawton, even when asked about them. As far as the players, Melrose said:
"I never really got close to any players in Tampa, whereas my other teams that I coached, I was always a players' coach. I really cared about my players. But the team in Tampa, I can really say there's only a couple of players that I actually cared for on that team. It was a weird team. It wasn't a Barry Melrose-type team and, obviously, it didn’t work out very well.''
"Steven is not ready for the NHL,'' Melrose said. "Steven is going to be a good player, but right now he's just not strong enough physically to play against defensemen who are 6-3 or 6-4 that can skate as good as him. … He just can't check in his own end well enough. … Right now, Steven is not a great NHL player by any stretch of the imagination.''
Click here to hear the full interview on The Fan.