Sunday, June 29, 2008

Return of the Mullet

by Yinzer

After nearly a fifteen year hiatus from behind the bench, Barry Melrose, the Man, the Myth, the Mullet has returned signing a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The reason for the move was simple. New Lightning owners wanted a face behind the bench to try and help give the franchise a boon in fan interest. So they took long time ESPN analyst Melrose from ESPN in order to do this. But there are a few problems with this.

He hasn’t coached in almost 15 years, and there’s a good reason

And my guess is because he wasn't very good. Yeah he got to the finals in 1993 but it was a bit of a fluke and no one expected them to make it. He then proceeded to miss the playoffs and be below five hundred the next two years. After only a three year stint in Los Angeles he was given the boot. It wasn't until 1996 he took a broadcasting job with ESPN after not coaching anywhere.

The game is different

Welcome to 2008 where the NHL isn’t the same. Defenseman and goalies are a lot better now and many things have changed. Last he coached the game was still open and offensive, turning defensive soon after he left. Now there have been new rules installed since the lockout, so it’s not the same game he coached before. Whether he can adjust or not is unknown, but chances are his old tactics won’t work the same, meaning he needs to rethink everything.

Player Response

Supposedly he’s a good person behind the bench and gets along with his players. But he was hired for his face and nothing else, he just happened to have coaching experience. How will players respond to that? The New owners seem intent on trying to bring help in by being aggressive in free agency, but all the talent in the world doesn’t help if they guy on the bench can’t do anything. The Pens tried that with Eddie Olczyk, bringing him from the announcer’s box to behind the bench and it failed horribly.

His analysis sucks

Melrose may be the guy ESPN plays up, but ask the fans and they don’t take what he says too seriously. He is not known for making good points (and frankly shows bias at times) and well, there is a reason he is on ESPN, a channel that doesn’t give a crap about hockey. People who like hockey go to internet sources for their hockey news (unless they’re in Canada where its everywhere they turn), not ESPN who normally is hours (at times and entire day) behind on hockey news. So you bring in a guy because of his face, but no one really watches him on the channel he worked at, and those who did agree he isn’t really good at it. Doesn’t seem too smart to me. Tampa better hope his coaching skills are better than his analyzing skills, otherwise no one on the ice will take him seriously and it will be like chickens running around with their heads cut off like so:

It’s all about the mullet

You may think this is just a running mullet joke I am making, but honestly, and hockey fans like Mahatma can back me up on this, Melrose is known more for his out of date haircut than anything. And even worse, that is what ESPN played him up with. Yes, the largest sports network built up their hockey guy by promoting his hair. The Mullet, the Mullet Man (no relation to the Muffin Man), or various other incarnations were used to promote him and hockey. So when Tampa wanted a guy with a face behind the bench, well they only got one with hair. What are people going to say? “Hey, you here that mullet guy is coaching the Lightning? Let’s go see a game!” I can see the ticket sales going through the roof now…

So basically what Tampa has done is really idiotic. I don’t see him being successful as a coach, and I definitely don’t see him drawing in fans because no one gave a crap about him when he was with ESPN. They would have been better off just making John Tortorella, a successful coach they fired, just wearing a wig. This is why owners should not get involved in hockey operations.

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