Because I tend to not blog on the weekends, here is a feature that will run through the entire season. It aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact about each team that played. And hell, there’s a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I’m totally ripping off just about every other blogger ever’s weekly column, but that’s something you’ll have to deal with on your own time.
Danger: This post contains language that some people might not like. This will be the only thing on the site that regularly does so.
So when I saw on Friday that Barry Melrose got fired, I was a little surprised and, frankly, disappointed. It obviously wasn’t because he didn’t have the credentials to be an NHL coach to begin with and not because the Lightning are a puddle of drizzling liquid shit. He doesn’t and they are. This piece of news had me upset because 16 games was four short of the 20 I had in the Barry Melrose Firing pool. Hell.
By all accounts, Melrose was just as bad a coach as you’d have imagined he’d be. Wyshysnki used the terms, “disorganization and lack of preparedness for this gig” to describe Melrose’s short reign behind the bench. Well no shit. Who would’ve figured that a guy who hadn’t coached in the bigtime since Steven Stamkos was five years old would be MASSIVELY unprepared to coach National Hockey League players? Jesus Christ, they probably don’t even let you work the grill at McDonald’s until you’ve stood behind the register for a while. But Oren Koules and Len Barrie go, “Hey the guy from TV! He’ll be PERFECT!” and no one in the entire main-stream hockey media, let alone guys like Damian Cristodero who actually cover the team, goes, “…wait what? The guy from TV?” The closest anyone in the MSM in Tampa came to saying how things would actually go (see: disaster, unmitigated) was when Cristodero said he wasn’t so good with the X’s and O’s.
What did everyone think was going to happen? Melrose comes off in most of the stuff I’ve seen since he got shitcanned as a wee bit full of himself, and if you read Cristodero’s post “Deconstructing Melrose” you will see that he believes his time at ESPN somehow better prepared him to coach in the NHL, and called all dissent “nonsense.” Well jeez, Barry, I watch an uncomfortably large amount of hockey too and I’ve coached as much in the NHL over the last 15 years as you have. Does that qualify me to coach the Trashers all of a sudden?
I mean, just look at this interview Melrose did with Ron McLean on Hockey Night in Canada last night and tell me he wasn’t always going to be a problem in Tampa.
What a douchebag. He gave the boss the “You can’t fire me, I quit” line, that cornball. How can he be upset that they fired him? Granted, he was working with a group of players that can’t have been put together by someone who has watched hockey the last three years, and the best he could have really hoped to do was to finish just outside the lottery zone, but Christ, the team had no anything. I mean, nothing at all. No offensive flair, no defensive presence, nothing to speak of between the pipes. Even bad teams, like the Islanders, can occasionally be entertaining. I defy anyone to struggle through a Lightning game under Barry Melrose. If my latest proposal goes through, it could join waterboarding as something the UN considers an illegal form of torture.
And what is Melrose doing throwing his players under the bus on the way out? They didn’t want to play for me. He said that they don’t play hard, with passion or with courage. “A lot of guys didn’t like to be held accountable,” and they went to Oren and Koules and asked that Melrose be shown the door. It couldn’t have had anything to do with the dismal on-ice efforts put forth so far, right? The insane decisions to cut ice time for Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis to “rest them?” The refusal to ever let Stamkos play 15 minutes a night despite his being your No. 2 center? The resistance to any type of system that would make a hockey team play as, y’know, a hockey team?
Oh but fucking excuse me, I guess, you had the Bolts running No. 1 first-period defense in the National Hockey League. Well the second-period defense is ninth-worst and the third-period defense is tied for 14th. So that adds up to 12th best. Congratulations, your defense was middle-of-the-pack. How about that offense, though? Well this can’t be right, Barry, this says it was dead fucking last. So whose fault is that?
Right, Vinny and Marty. “If Vinny has a normal season…” and “If Marty had a normal start…” is a real classy fuckin’ way to go out. This all reminded me of a post I did back in late September, just before the start of the regular season.
Basically, Melrose overhauled the entire team’s offensive philosophy. Playing Lecavalier and St. Louis less was going to have some sort of positive impact.. somehow. I think most people didn’t see it then and certainly haven’t seen it by now. Step two was increasing puck possession. For real. “If we have the puck, they can’t score,” Melrose said at the time. But when the team had 11 goals for in its first seven games, what got changed up?
I do not, however, want to give the impression that the Lightning’s failure and thus Melrose’s firing are entirely his fault. It really isn’t. At least some of this is on Oren and Koules, the dopes who hired him in the first place, and yes, some of it is on the players as well.
But Barry, the team didn’t suck because you wanted them to work hard and they didn’t. The team didn’t suck because it didn’t have any offensive punch. It didn’t even suck because it’s the oldest and maybe the slowest team in the NHL.
It sucked because it couldn’t not have. The guy with the mullet off ESPN that hadn’t been in the League since Jerry Maguire was in theaters was its coach.
Is the new guy gonna be any better? I wouldn’t bet on it.
What We Learned
Anaheim — This whole Brian Burke thing, I dunno. Some people seem to be kinda happy about it. But I don’t understand why. Guy put together a team that won the Stanley Cup with big trades and signings and has continually had the Ducks in competition among the best teams in the West. Oh yeah, and the team’s core of future stars is set up front because Burke re-signed Getzlaf, Perry and Kunitz longterm for pretty goddamn short money.
Atlanta — Ilya Kovalchuk’s really turned it on in his last six or so games. He’s got 3-7-10 in those. Bet they can’t wait until they have to trade him.
Boston — I’ll use this space to shamelessly plug my old buddy Alan Siegel’s wonderful article on Milan Lucic, much-beloved of late. Alan’s not a hockey guy by trade but he did a hell of a goddamn job on this definitive story on what makes Looch such a mean, mean son of a bitch. Also, you can check out his brand new Celtics blog HubHoops.com if you’re also a basketball guy. I’m not. (jk luv ya al)
Buffalo — This team’s probably not doing as well as it deserves and has generally appeared to be kinda listless. Why not give Nate Gerbe a shot? Gerbe, if you don’t know, is 12-7-19 in 13 AHL games in his first pro season. He’s far, far too good to be riding a bus all over the east coast. Kid should be flying charter.
Calgary — The Flames had the weekend off and as a consequence I had the weekend off from my problems with them. Unfortunately, they’ve taken the last week off and said problems have had no such luxury.
Carolina — Finally got a chance to see the ‘Canes new third jerseys in action today. If I may quote the great Johnny Upton, “They’re fucking horrible-looking.” I’m not one of those guys that’s against all black third jerseys as a rule, but these are perhaps the worst in the league, and that’s counting Atlanta’s.
Chicago — Hahahaha Dale Tallon gave Cristobal Huet HOW much? For HOW long?
Colorado — Experts say that within eight years, two-thirds of Colorado residents will be obese. Isn’t that just terrifying? Colorado’s one of the more in-shape states we’ve got, and two out of every three people there is going to be a fat tub of shit within a decade. What does that mean for the rest of the US? A good 80 percet? The linked article, by the way, has perhaps the strangest and most adorably bigoted sentence I’ve read in quite some time: “Many Russians and blacks, for example, prefer to be heavy, said Washington, and some cultures see being overweight as a sign of good health.” If you thought I would use this space to put in a Kyle Wellwood joke, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.
Columbus — As if you needed further evidence that the Blue Jackets aren’t going anywhere this season, here’s something from the Columbus Dispatch from earlier this week: the team held two optional practices and 17 players showed up. Combined. Gotta love the effort.
Dallas — Why would anyone on the planet actually trade for Darryl Sydor? I mean, theoretically he had chemistry with Zubov back when they both played for the Stars a few years ago, but unless he’ll be traveling to Dallas via Doc Brown’s DeLorean, this is a mind-bendingly weird move.
Detroit — So now GM is producing 1980s-quality youtube videos in hopes of scaring the US government into give it a metric fuckton of money. The unmentioned consequence of the total collapse of the American auto industry is that the Red Wings would move to Hamilton in about three seconds. Oh, and financial ruin for the United States on a scale no one has ever seen. That too.
Edmonton — Dustin Penner got benched and it led to the funniest quote and correction of the week:
“When we signed Dustin we thought he’d be a top-two-line player,” said MacTavish as the team prepares to face the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. We thought the contract ($4.25 million average for five years) was a starting point for him, but he views it as a finish line. I can’t watch it, certainly not for another 2 1/2 years,” he said.
Actually, it’s 3 1/2 years.
That sound you hear is $4.25 million and a bunch of draft picks going right down the shitter. As they say on Calgarypuck, “Haha, stupid Oilers.”
Florida — Everyone’s lining up to get Jay Bouwmeester already, and everyone thinks they have a shot. Memo to all fans proposing multi-player trades: you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about so don’t even bother doing it. No GM in the league would accept your shitty proposal one way or the other.
Los Angeles — What is Terry Murray doing that’s different from what got Marc Crawford fired? Someone please explain this to me.
Minnesota — Wake me up when Marian Gaborik’s good to go.
Montreal — So the NHL is going to “investigate” the fact that Canadiens lead all All-Stars in votes by a good 150,000 or so. Yeah, it’s a real tough nut to crack. Could take weeks. At least they went ahead and added a CAPTCHA so you couldn’t just vote with that script Canadiens fans cooked up. Innovative solution: NO Habs at the All-Star game.
Nashville — Another reason not to play the Predators: You’ll get seriously hurt. First they broke Kevin Bieksa’s foot, and now Francois Beauchemin is out with an ACL tear. An addition reason not to play the Predators: country music.
New Jersey — All their problems can likely be traced back to Martin Brodeur getting a new mask. My friend Mike is a Devils fan and refuses to acknowledge that this season has taken place or will ever do so. Probably not a bad idea.
New York Islanders — This is a team that won’t make the playoffs and could end up with a lottery pick, but given the lot he was handed, Scott Gordon might be Coach of the Year so far. Just a phenomenal job outta him. Suck it, Melrose.
New York Rangers — Well done. You beat Tim Thomas in a shootout. But this James Duthie article about how awesome Tim Thomas is should make you feel pretty fucking bad about it.
Ottawa Senators — Every week this team finds new ways to astound me with how badly they’re playing. This week, it was my discovery that their offense is third-worst in the league. Mind-boggling.
Philadelphia — I dunno what to say here that would be in some way related to this city or team, so I’ll just say this week’s episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” was a pisser and leave it at that.
Phoenix — If Dan Carcillo ever gets hurt and the Dogs need an enforcer, they could do worse than throwing a pair of skates on this kid.
Pittsburgh — Phillipe Boucher’s obviously not what he used to be, but getting rid of Darryl Sydor for any reason at all is going to help the Pens’ team defense.
San Jose — Have no fear, even if Evgeni Nabokov can’t play Monday, the Sharks have the next five days off. He’ll be good to go by Saturday for sure.
St. Louis — Andy MacDonald is out indefinitely with a fractured left leg. By my count he is the 49th player on the Blues to be “out indefinitely” this season.
Tampa Bay — The rumor is that they’re aggressively going after Sundin. Yeah, that’ll work out great.
Toronto — Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurke. You know you want him. Need to shore up that prospect pool with some Bobby Ryan-type players.
Vancouver — How about Kyle Wellwood? Since he came back up from the AHL, he’s scored seven goals and an assist in 11 games. If he could get any help from his linemates he’d have even better numbers. An astonishing turnaround.
Washington — Apparently Ted Leonsis doesn’t like it when mediocre, unfunny ESPN writers shit on his town and team. That’s why Ted Leonsis is awesome. Maybe Bill Simmons should stick to what he knows, like 14,000-word essays on why the Celtics’ bench depth is just like this episode of the new 90210 he and his buddy J-Bug watched.
Play of the Weekend
I’m no expert, but I’m gonna bet that the last thing you want to happen to you when you’re 47 is to be punched in the temple by a 280-pound man.
Gold Star Award
Alex Ovechkin’s back for real. Without an injured Alexander Semin, Ovie still scored twice, including the game-tying goal with under a second left in regulation. Glad to see the kid’s back at it.
Next week’s game I’m totally going to watch on Center Ice if I’m home
Nashville at Tampa on Thursday. Just kidding. Boston at Montreal on Saturday. Hopefully this one won’t be quite so disappointing a blowout.
Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill
NCAA-style football overtime with one of those stupid vibrating electric football games.
Soccer update only I care about
Liverpool won 2-0 away to Bolton, so that’s good. The type of win Liverpool need to keep themselves at the top of the table where they belong.
College hockey update only I care about
A four-point weekend against No. 6 UNH, by a score of 8-3(!), and No. 20 UMass on the road, 2-0. You’ll take that every time out.
The No. 1 DVD I own and kind of want to watch this week but likely will not
Gettysburg. I haven’t watched it since I had to do a project on the Civil War in like the fifth grade, but it seems like one of those movies that I, being a history nerd, will quite enjoy. I don’t, however, know how I feel about Harry from Dumb and Dumber as a Union general. It seems like you couldn’t trust him to not take a nice diarrhea dump right before Pickett’s Charge.
An update on last week’s “No. 1 DVD I own and kind of want to watch this week but likely will not“
Superbad. Yeah I saw it for what has to be the 40th time already. Fuck me, right?
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
09 4th rd pick
1st rd 09 pick
1st rd 2010 pick
Maybe my favorite trade of the year so far. The NHL’s leading scorer, a recent high first-round pick, an outstanding sophomore center and an offensive force at the blue line PLUS two future No. 1 picks for a dump truck full of cat shit.
To quote MKWing26, “toss in Mike Rathje and you got a deal!”