Everyone is shaking their heads with regards to Tampa Bay’s recent and continuing overhaul – some with approval and others with disapproval. The Lightning will be an interesting team to watch this season. They could either be the traveling circus of the league or a serious contender… only time will tell.
With all of the changes being made in recent weeks – Lecavalier’s lifetime contract, resignation of GM Feaster, the acquisitions of Recchi, Kolzig, Vrbata, Malone, Roberts, and Prospal, the hiring of Barry Melrose – yes that Melrose – as head coach, the loss of top defenseman Boyle to SJ, and a few other tidbits I’ve missed, the question still remains, can you just throw a bunch of newly acquired skilled players on the ice with a guy who hasn’t coached in years and an ownership group all too willing to bypass management to toy with the team line-up and expect to produce a winning team?
The Lightning have a lot to prove this season. To avoid becoming the revolving side show circus of talent that the Rangers were in the past, they will need to make the playoffs. Otherwise, you can expect to see some of these names again next summer – on there way out. On the other hand, this overhaul could work! And if so, the ownership will look like geniuses and Melrose will be able to gloat during his offseason interviews with ESPN.
Even with all of this hype, the Lightning have to be careful. I don’t think Melrose will be a strong coach his first season back behind the bench and I have no doubt that everyone below the ownership group are just puppets at this point. I have a feeling Melrose is just this giddy little kid right now excited about the opportunity to coach again and isn’t really thinking about the chemistry of the players being put onto the ice by management, er, ownership.
In the end though, it gives us one more plot to look forward to during the upcoming 08/09 season. And sports is all about entertainment… and the NHL should be very entertaining this season.