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Tampa Bay Circus Continues ... Lightning put Barry Melrose on Waivers

Melrose2The circus in Tampa continues.

Barry Melrose was fired as coach of the Lightning today. There had been talk the former ESPN analyst was on the hot seat, but few figured the impetuous management of the Lightning would pull the trigger this fast. These guys keep surprising us.

Enjoy the free money Barry.

One might remember the new Lightning ownership team jumped the gun on Melrose, word leaking that he was going to replace John Tortorella before the guys even owned the team. And before Torts was relieved of his duties.

You have to think Torts and Jay Feaster -- the GM new ownership tossed to the side of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway like a leaking cup from Burger King soon after the draft -- are pretty happy to be out of this mess.

You think the Panthers have problems? This Tampa Bay situation makes the Panthers look like the well-oiled machine that is the New England Patriots in comparison.

The Bolts' new coach: Rick Tocchet, lured off Wayne Gretzky's staff by Melrose during the summer. One might remember Tocchet was out of the game for a while himself, sitting out after pleading guilty to promoting gambling.

Says GM Brian Lawton: “This was a tough decision to make. Barry is a good man and we have a great deal of respect for him. We wish him nothing but success.  However, the results were unacceptable and the players have to understand that we need to be better. Hopefully this change helps push them.

“As for Rick Tocchet, we think this is a great opportunity for him and we believe he’s the type of coach who can take the team to the next level. Our players have a great deal of respect for him.”

I like Tocchet, think he's going to do a good job -- all things considered.

Tocchet has to deal with a lot of meddlers within his own front office, folks who make rash decisions and don't really think things through. Just look at that roster. They've made quick free agent signings, rash trades. They're a mess. I'm not saying Melrose wasn't part of the problem. He just might have been. This Tampa team didn't seem to concerned with playing the Panthers the other day, one day after Melrose gambled and tried to fire up his guys by skipping a practice so someone else's voice could be heard.

Mission accomplished. Someone else's voice will now be heard. Perhaps ESPN has room to bring back their old analyst. And now he can grow the mullet back.

Writes Gary Shelton of the St. Pete Times: From the beginning of training camp it has been like this. This team has been a run-on sentence with no time to pause and no place for punctuation. It has been a runaway train filled with rushed judgments, snap decisions and hasty exits.

The Panthers get to see the new-new-new-look Lightning on Tuesday in Tampa.

You won't get to see it, unless you make the drive across the 'gator. It's not being televised in either market thanks to the genius behind the Versus exclusive blackout (this is a whole different column).

-- Sad day for the boys and girls over at Barry Melrose Rocks. Check out their site, one now in mourning. What to do, what to do...