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Barry Melrose should hush while Tampa Bay Lightning owners need not rush

Barry Melrose’s firing after 16 games has been part of the Lightning’s soap opera.

Barry Melrose’s firing after 16 games has been part of the Lightning’s soap opera.

A little advice for Barry Melrose.

Shut up.

Honestly, Barry. Give it a rest. At this point, the more you say, the worse you look.

We get it. You think you were hosed by the new Lightning owners. You were blown up after 16 games, and there were those in the front office who wanted you out by the time the team plane landed for the opener in Prague.

On the other hand, every time you open your mouth, you sound a little less like a victim and a little more like a rooster crowing from the distance, especially if that distance is 1993.

By and large, Barry, no one cares anymore. Frankly, there are more pressing concerns around Tampa Bay than what happened to you two weeks ago.

Pretty much, no one is listening.

Pretty much, two guys should.

Their names are Oren Koules and Len Barrie. Perhaps you have heard of them.

Today, it's understandable if Koules and Barrie are irritated with Melrose all over again. After all, you pay a guy a couple of million for a couple of months, and you might expect a little calm for your cash. That's usually how it works. Coaches want that next job, so they don't lob insults at the owner's box until they are sure they have had their last dance.

At least Melrose is getting paid for staying away. A lot of fans are doing it for free. Think about that. In the end, Melrose is going to get about $400,000 per victory. So, yeah, the Lightning owners are probably trying hard to order one of those Fathead posters with Barry's face on it just so they can take turns shooting pucks at it.

Once they are done, however, perhaps they should sit and talk about the latest bubbles in this team's ongoing soap opera.

Perhaps they should ask each other these kinds of questions: "So, is there any truth here? Is there any way a coach would think we were meddling? And is there any truth to the awful perceptions of us that are out there?''

By now, it is time for the Lightning owners to do some serious self-examination. Because, let's face it, they are off to an awful start. The team isn't winning, the fans aren't buzzing and, considering all of the changes, the locker room could use a revolving door.

As owners, these guys look impulsive, reactionary, reckless. Former coach John Tortorella, the guy they fired before they fired Melrose, called them "cowboys,'' but that isn't fair. Most cowboys take the time to make sure they are at the right rodeo. These guys are the cowboys you see at the wild west show.

What we have here is the Hit Show on Ice. You remember the Hit Show, don't you? It happened back when the Rays couldn't wait to throw their money away, and they ended up with Jose Canseco and Vinny Castilla, the Radim Vrbata and Matt Carle of their day.

Look, somebody had to think it was a good idea to hire Melrose. Right? Back before he made you wonder what the Czech word was for "disappointment," someone had to think Vrbata was worth the money. Someone had to think Carle was a fair price for Dan Boyle. Someone had to think spending so much money was going to add up to six victories.

Hey, the last person who would ever suggest patience is a sports columnist. But remember former Lightning owner Art Williams, the guy who came in preaching about studs and duds and threatening everyone? Compared to these guys, Williams looked like Ghandi.

Given that impatience, did the owners cross the line with Melrose? Maybe. Maybe they thought Melrose needed the help.

Again, the concern here should not be Melrose's fragile feelings. Hey, if Melrose wants to dress his voodoo dolls up in Lightning gear, well, everyone needs a hobby. But when a coach admits he's pulling against his former players, doesn't it tell you something about him? You might remember: When Melrose left, it wasn't as if the players marched to the owners' box to protest the decision.

For those who follow the Lightning, the bigger concern should be the growth of new owners to savvy owners.

If this is going to work, passion eventually has to be balanced by patience, and impulse has to give way to intelligence.

Around Tampa Bay, we have seen franchises develop before. Usually, it's because of a blueprint. It's because of young stars (Brooks and Sapp, Longoria and Upton, Lecavalier and Richards) developing rather than free agents from elsewhere. It's because of a good plan, good personnel and good timing.

You know what would be nice to hear? It would be nice for Koules or Barrie to come out and say, yeah, they have made a few mistakes, but they have learned from them. It would be nice to hear them say they were in too much of a hurry, but they will develop as owners, and the Lightning will develop as a team.

Then you would like them to prove it. You would like to see shrewd and methodical. You would like to see them develop this team into something worth seeing.

Gee. Wouldn't you like to hear what Melrose would have to say about that?

Barry Melrose should hush while Tampa Bay Lightning owners need not rush 12/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 2:32pm]
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