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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose's all-time Tiny Team

Earlier this week, I gave you my greatest team of big men of all-time. Now it's time to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and check out the tiny team. A lot of you will notice that I have a few players missing like Dino Ciccarelli and Martin St. Louis. I thought of Dino and Marty, and they probably would have been the next guys on the team, but on the numbers my forwards have them beat. For the sake of Ciccarelli and St. Louis, I'll just say they were too tall to make the team.

Here's my greatest team of little guys in NHL history.

Gump Worsley, G -- Worsley was 5-foot-7, one of the most famous goaltenders in history, and he had one of the greatest nicknames in the history of the game. How many of us have pretended to be Gump Worsley playing in the backyard? He's one of the great characters of our sport, and he had some of the greatest lines. When he played for the Rangers someone asked him which defense in the League scared him the most and Gump turned and said, "My own." That's the type of guy he was. Again, though, he was a great goaltender. His numbers are fantastic. When there were six teams he was always one of the six No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL and he was just a great personality.

Curt Giles, D -- Curt was 5-8 and he was on those good Minnesota North Stars teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1981 and again in 1991, and he played a lot of minutes. He was a defensive defenseman, but he was very physical for his size. It was amazing to think that a 5-8 defenseman at that time -- that was a real tough era in the NHL, and he was certainly able to hold his own despite being that small.

Lars-Erik Sjoberg, D -- I played with this guy in Winnipeg. He's 5-8 and I know a lot of people won't know him because he only played one year in the NHL, but if you look at the history of Swedish hockey or the WHA, where he played for a number of years, he was always one of the best defensemen. He was one of the stars of the Swedish national teams that went to the Olympics in those years. He played the power play and was gritty and that was a tough time in hockey. It was a physical time and a nasty time and Sjoberg played against everybody and played very well. I caught him at the end of his career, but he was a great teammate and a very underrated hockey player.

Marcel Dionne, F -- He was 5-8, but he also had over 700 goals and is probably the greatest player never to win the Stanley Cup. He was part of the Triple Crown line in Los Angeles, which was arguably the best line in the NHL for a period of time, he was very quick and he was a shorter guy but he was square. He had immense power in his legs like Sidney Crosby. He was a great skater and very tough to play against if you were a defenseman. People probably don't give him the respect he deserves because he played in Los Angeles and didn't have a lot of playoff success, but this is one of the great players to ever play in our sport.

Yvan Cournoyer, F -- "The Roadrunner" was 5-7 and was a captain for a few years of those great Montreal teams. After Beliveau left and Henri Richard left he was the guy. There aren't many captains of the Montreal Canadiens. He scored over 400 goals and was one of the fastest skaters ever to play the game. He played in the '72 series and he played with a straight stick, which allowed him to use his backhand as effectively as his forehand. He was one of the last guys in the League to do it that way and he was great when he was doing it that way.

Theo Fleury, F -- Theo, at 5-6, is the shortest player on my team. I was coaching Medicine Hat the first time I saw Theo Fleury and he was a menace up in Moose Jaw, and I could not believe it the first time I saw him play. Our team was real good in Medicine Hat, we won the Memorial Cup, and that night Fleury scored a hat trick against us. The guy was unbelievable. He was so fast, so brave, and an unbelievable competitor. I just loved watching him play. I didn't like coaching against him, but he was one of my favorite guys to watch. We all remember when he scored that playoff goal in overtime and slid down the ice on his knees and fist-pumped at the world. He was an unbelievable, emotional player who played with a lot of heart and character, so he makes up my tiny line.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.04.2011 / 11:30 PM - Melrose Minute

My all-time team of big guys in NHL history

What I tried to do in this was pick big guys, but they also had to be good. These guys are big, big men, but they're also very good players, because in the end you can't just rely on your size to play in the National Hockey League.

And so, without further ado, here is my best all-time lineup of big guys:

Ken Dryden, G -- In net, we're starting with Ken Dryden. He's 6-foot-4, and the numbers speak for themselves. He won the Conn Smythe before he won rookie of the year (in 1971), which hasn't happened since, and he's one of the greatest goaltenders ever to play our game. He was a part of those great Montreal teams -- some say the best teams in NHL history -- and he was an iconic figure on those teams. We all remember the photos of him leaning on his stick -- he made that pose very, very famous.

A goalie with Dryden's height, to play like he did, completely changed the game. They talk about positions that have changed the most or the biggest difference between now and the 1970s. It's goaltending. Every team now has got a great goaltender, and if you look at these goaltenders they basically all play the same, they're all 6-2 to 6-5, and some like Ben Bishop are as tall as 6-7. They're all butterfly goalies and they're well-schooled. They're not reaction goalies anymore. They go to where the puck is going to go, and they're the best athletes on the team now. In the old days you put the fat kid in net. Now the best athletes on the team are in net. That's the biggest difference and you could certainly say Ken Dryden was on the cutting edge of that.

Zdeno Chara
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 18
SOG: 76 | +/-: 18
Zdeno Chara, D -- He's 6-9, but the guy is great, too. Zdeno Chara was an easy choice. He's won a Stanley Cup, he's one of the best defensemen in the game right now, he's just a unique player, he's the captain of an original six team and the guy's gigantic. And he's not just a freak of nature -- the guy's a great athlete. Both of his parents were great athletes and his father went to the Olympics as a greco-roman wrestler. Chara came over to Prince George, British Columbia at a young age, began practicing and just developed, developed, developed. If you ask GMs in hockey which defenseman they'd take first if they got to draft them all, I've got to think a large number would pick Chara. He's that good.

A buddy of mine was an assistant coach at Prince George and he talked to me about Chara. He really thought he was going to be a player. He told me that Chara had just improved so much since he came over, he's a workaholic, he's a great kid, he's a sponge for information, and he's just awesome. Sometimes athletes that tall can struggle with coordination, but the guys who saw him play in juniors said he'll make it. They didn't say he'd become the best defenseman in the game, but they did say he's going to play in the NHL and play well. In addition to being a presence though, the guy scores 10-20 goals a year. He gets points. He's on the power play. He's a complete player. He's not a one-dimensional freak. He's a great defenseman who happens to be gigantic.

Chris Pronger, D -- He's 6-6 and all you have to do to see the impact of Chris Pronger is see what Philadelphia looks like with him out of the lineup. He's a lot like Chara size-wise, but he's a great passer of the puck. That's the biggest difference between the two if you had to find one. There aren't very many better first passers in the NHL than Pronger and that's an important part of today's game. He'll play the point on the power play, he'll kill penalties, he always plays against the other team's best player, and if you noticed, Pronger made the Final three times in five years with a different team each time.

Pronger is one of the great defensemen ever to play the game. He's mobile, he can skate, he's mean as a rattlesnake, tough to play against and his size just makes him more effective.

Mario Lemieux, F -- It's nice when we're talking about one of the five greatest players in the history of the game as one of the big guys on my team, but if you look at him, 6-4, 230-240 lbs., great talent, some of the best hands the game's ever seen, scored over 600 goals -- he's another guy that if he hadn't been hurt or had cancer his numbers would have been Gretzky-esque. And he's also, arguably, done as much off the ice as he's done on the ice. He basically saved Pittsburgh twice -- once when he came into the NHL because Pittsburgh was a terrible, terrible franchise, and once when he restructured all the money they owed him and kept the franchise in Pittsburgh. Now everyone knows it as maybe the best franchise in the NHL.

He's just a great ambassador of our sport, but that frame makes him really the first great big guy with talent. Big guys before were physical players and fighters, but here we had a guy that big who was maybe the most skilled player in the game. Just a unique individual and a unique player. If he had stayed healthy his whole career I don't think he would have beat Gretzky -- Gretzky's numbers are that freakish -- but he certainly would have been up there.

At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Pete Mahovlich used his oversized body to score 288 goals and 773 point in 884 NHL games for the Canadiens and Red Wings. (Photo: Getty Images)
Pete Mahovlich, F -- Pete was 6-5 and when I think of Big Pete I always think of that goal he scored against the Russians in the '72 Summit Series, where he beat the whole Russian team, went in and scored. It's one of the greatest goals ever. He was also very skilled, similarly to Mario. He had one of the best sets of hands the NHL ever saw, and he was also one of the funniest guys in the NHL. He was a great teammate. Everyone loved playing with Pete.

He was really just an unbelievable talent skill-wise. Here was a guy that wasn't very physical, but his hands, his stick, his skating, his ability to move the puck, he was one of the great players of that era. Anyone benefits from playing on a great team like he did, but Pete was a talent in his own right. When you're picked to Team Canada in '72 and you're one of the key players on Team Canada in '72, you're a great player. Pete was front and center on that team, so I think he stands on his own.

Dave Andreychuk, F -- Dave is 6-5, another guy with over 600 goals, he won a Stanley Cup, he always scored a ton of goals in junior and the NHL, every place he went and every organization he went to he scored goals so it wasn't a case of people he was with making him a goal scorer, and he just had a great set of hands around the net. He was a gigantic man physically, and he would get into that tripod stance on the ice that made him impossible to move. He was a great power play performer and just one of the great goal scorers in our game.

He was not a great skater -- he'll be the first to tell you that -- but he got to the puck and he was able to put it in. As a result, Andreychuk is the third man on that gigantic line.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:30 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Mullet of the Week: Sidney Crosby

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:52 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose provides suit jacket advice for Dale Hunter

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:19 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Coaching Carousel

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 1:34 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose on Movember

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Posted On Monday, 11.28.2011 / 1:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

5 Ugliest Jerseys in NHL History

This was harder than I thought because there aren't a ton of bad jerseys, but there are a few. Here are what I came up with as my least favorite jerseys of all time.

Honorable Mention: New Jersey Devils 1982-1993 - Before we really get started, here's a jersey that I really wanted to put in this list: the Devils jerseys with the green and red "Christmas Tree" jerseys. That was a bad jersey. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it was never the most wonderful time of the year for the Devils. That was a color combination that I think everyone was happy it left the NHL.

5. The Calgary Flames in 1980 - There was not a lot of imagination here and nothing very innovative -- just a "C" with some flames on it. The white ones were especially poor I thought, but for lack of imagination and creativity, I'll give the white Calgary flames jersey the nod at No. 5. I'm not a lover of Calgary's jerseys in general. I like them better now that they have black in them, but I've never been a lover of their jerseys.

4. The New York Rangers in 1978
- I hate that long stripe from one arm across the shoulder to the other arm. A lot of teams did this in the late 1970s -- including the Toronto Maple Leafs -- when I played for them. The Rangers had it with that square crest on the front. The Rangers had the stripe, Philly started the stripe, Toronto went to the stripe, Winnipeg went to the stripe, and I just never really liked it. I like the Rangers jersey when it just has Rangers across the front much better than the crest.

3. The Gold L.A. Kings jerseys - The purple and gold that they wore for a while they took because they had the same owners as the L.A. Lakers, and purple and gold just aren't hockey colors. They don't invoke fear and intimidation. I've never liked the L.A. Kings' purple and gold jerseys, but the gold jerseys with the gold socks and the gold pants were the worst. I just felt that was too much gold in any one area. Thank God they didn't bring those out when I was the coach there. It's good for basketball, but just not for hockey.

2. The Islanders Gorton's Fisherman - If this one's No. 2, it's hard to imagine that anything is worse than this. That was a jersey that scared kids. That was a bad crest. I'm so glad to have seen the Islanders get back to their original jerseys. They should never have changed. They won Stanley Cups with it, it was a nice jersey and to do that with the Gorton's Fisherman was just bad planning. I'm a traditional guy. If you're lucky enough to have tradition -- so few teams have it -- that should be something you go towards, not something you go away from. You don't see the Leafs or the Canadiens making major changes, and the Islanders, say what you want, are one of the great franchises in our game. They've won a number of Stanley Cups, so I think tradition is what they should be striving for -- not being gimmicky.

1. The Vancouver Canucks: Every jersey from 1978-1997 - It's not just one jersey. It's an era -- right from when they brought the "V" in to the goofy skate on the crest. That whole era is the worst collection of jerseys the NHL has ever seen. At first they had the Hockey Night in Canada jerseys with the stick through the TV screen, and now they're back to that with their alternate, but then they had so many jerseys that were ugly, from the "V" to the goofy skate. There is just no redeeming that group of jerseys.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry gives his thanks

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Posted On Monday, 11.21.2011 / 3:00 AM - Melrose Minute

Melrose: All-Star honorees at the quarter pole

With most teams in the National Hockey League at or nearing 20 games played this season, I've made my All-Star picks, as well as my coach and rookie of the year at the season's quarter pole. Here is who I think has been the best of the best at each position in the League this season.

Right wing: Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs

Phil Kessel
Right Wing - TOR
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 29
SOG: 73 | +/-: 6
His numbers (League-leading 16 goals, 29 points) speak for themselves. I think he's been the best player in the NHL so far this season. Toronto's off to a good start and obviously he's a gigantic part of what they've done, so Kessel is my first forward for my All-Star team.

Center: Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

I think this guy is just emerging into a superstar. He's just a great two-way center. He can score points, he can also kill penalties, he's good defensively. He's just an excellent hockey player. He can do anything. People are seeing why the Philadelphia Flyers felt they were able to trade Mike Richards.

Left wing: Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago's off to a great start, he's off to a great start, and he's a high plus, which means he's playing five-on-five very well. He's putting the puck in the net and he's just playing like we envision Marian Hossa when he's healthy. He's been awesome. I've watched Chicago a number of times and he's dangerous, he's skating well, he's attacking the net well and, as I said, he's a plus-11 right now. That's excellent. He always gets points on the power play, but being that high of a plus means that five-on-five he's getting his points also.

Defenseman: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Boston's won eight in a row, Chara's a plus-12, and he always plays against other teams' best players. I really take that as a consideration. You want a defenseman with good numbers, and Chara gets his points, but he's so much more than that. Being that high a plus and playing against every team's best three forwards every night is pretty impressive. I think Chara and the Boston Bruins have found their game. There's no better team in the NHL right now than Boston, and Chara is a big part of that.

Defenseman: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 14
SOG: 61 | +/-: 19
I'm taking Shea Weber for the exact same reasons. He's plus-19, he and Chara both have 14 points, and he too plays against the other teams' best forwards every night. He's got the highest plus in the NHL and that's a pretty impressive number for a defenseman. We saw what he did last year in the playoffs and he just does everything. He's got the big shot, he's a great passer of the puck, he can play a very physical style if he needs to, and every night he sees everybody's best player. He never gets a shift off, where he's out there against the fourth line.

Goaltender: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars

He's still 11-4, he's still leading the NHL in wins. Dallas as a team has struggled, but I think when you look at all the other goaltenders in the NHL, his numbers are still great. He's among the League leaders in everything and 11 wins -- that's the most important number for goaltenders.

Best rookie: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

He had five points in his last game, he's got 19 points overall. Edmonton is surprising a lot of people right now and he's certainly been a big part of that. He's just a guy that sees the ice very well and sees his teammates very well. You just watch him and he does everything well. To have that many points is great for a rookie. He's under the microscope, too. No one expects it out of the other guys, but this guy has had a target on his back from day one and he's been great from day one. He hasn't had any slumps, and to do it with the pressure he's been under is just amazing.

Best coach: Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes

This team, what they're going through with ownership and Bryzgalov leaving in the summer, they're one of the best teams in the Western Conference. They just had a great streak where they went on the road and beat some very good teams, so the record speaks for itself. With all the other stuff that's happening it's easy for that team to get sidetracked and start talking about the wrong things. He's done a great job of keeping them focused on what's important, and that's winning. The only thing they can control is winning, and they've done a great job of that so far.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 12:35 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Top players of the week

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Quote of the Day

This is a great day for me. This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. This is a great opportunity that the St. Louis Blues organization, (owner) Tom Stillman and Doug Armstrong are giving me and trusting me in doing...This is going to be a great challenge for me.

— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday