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Too soon to say Tampa Bay Lightning coach Melrose's job in danger

There needs to be some perspective when it comes to judging coach Barry Melrose. Making assumptions after 10 games is not only knee-jerk but shows a lack of understanding about what this team has gone through since last season:

New owners, new general manager, 15 new players (if you include Vinny Prospal) trying to learn a new system and about each other; a new coaching staff trying to mesh, and a training camp on two continents that was great for bonding but lousy for the on-ice product.

Add that star center Vinny Lecavalier and best defenseman Paul Ranger missed camp because of shoulder surgeries, and a development-stunting schedule that had the team play one game in 10 days, and it's not difficult to figure why Tampa Bay got off to a slow start.

It also makes that 3-3-3 October record look pretty good.

Melrose, who spent the past 12 years as an ESPN analyst, should be evaluated constantly as to his preparation, practice methods, the kind of game he wants to play and the way he motivates players. And it is right for owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie and general manager Brian Lawton to demand explanations of Melrose's methods and thought processes, and if there are concerns, to bring them to his attention and expect corrections.

But it seems premature less than a month into the season to draw the conclusion, as some in the media already have, that Melrose is one step from unemployment.

Tampa Bay has a lot of very good players and potential to be a very good team. We saw it last week in two notable road victories. Melrose must maintain the trajectory.

Are there going to be bumps? Sure. It is even reasonable to believe Melrose's leash is shorter because Lawton, who joined the team in late June, was not part of the hiring process. So consider this a feeling-out process for them as well.

Grading any coach is an inexact science. It is even trickier in Tampa Bay because of the extenuating circumstances. Melrose has said he believes he has "less than a year" to prove himself. The guess here is the brass needs at least 25 to 30 games before it can even begin evaluating whether Melrose was the right choice for the job.

Until then, let's see what he can do.

Too soon to say Tampa Bay Lightning coach Melrose's job in danger 11/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 1:16pm]
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