Barry Melrose has always been very open with us. Through all those winters spent on the ESPN set in Bristol, he was never afraid to give people an honest, open evaluation -- even if it was a bit edgy. He was always more civil than Don Cherry, but still had a knack for brutal honesty.
When he took the job as Bolts head coach, you had to wonder if the straight talk was going to carry over. For a few months from the time he was hired through the summer, he said all the right things. You know, the canned public relations responses.
And then the Bolts went 0-2 in Prague, getting banged around by a team that was anything but a sure thing to sit atop the Atlantic Division. They also made a seemingly desperate trade today, only three days into the young season.
Things aren't going well in Tampa, at least at the moment. And yesterday we found out that Barry Melrose is still not afraid to tell it like it is. Following the team's second loss to the Rangers on Sunday, he had some choice words to describe their on-ice play.
"We don't compete," Melrose said. "We're too easy to play against. Until that changes, we're going to have trouble. We have a lot of skill on our team, but skill means nothing if you don't work hard."
"My biggest problem was I can't play Gratton's line every shift," Melrose said. "It's probably the lowest-paid line we've got on the ice, but by far the best line in the last two games.
"I hope our guys are embarrassed. We've just got to get our great players playing as hard as our lesser players and we'll be fine."
It's great to see a coach, much less ANYONE, in pro sports telling it like it is these days. We live in an era of canned responses and agents talking in player's ears so this sure isn't the norm and is a nice change of place.
How-ev-uh, it will certainly be interesting to see how this is taken in the locker room. Especially since it's directed at the team's big money makers. If it's taken the wrong way and this team continues to lose, you have to think Melrose is digging himself a mighty big hole. Either way, he might be making enemies with the wrong guys.