Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 12:24 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Penguins impressing early on

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Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 12:24 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Should visors be mandatory?

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 3:58 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Phaneuf, Sedin Twins and Quick

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:24 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose Mullet of the Week goes to...

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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 10:00 AM - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Five greatest teams ever

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 season.

Some great teams have played in the history of the NHL, but in the 118 years people have been battling for the Stanley Cup, these, to me, are the five greatest teams to have ever lifted it.

5. 1970 Boston Bruins

Bobby Orr led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup on 1970, scoring one of the most iconic goals in NHL history along the way. (Photo: Getty Images)
This team is on the list because Bobby Orr had to be on this list. It had the best power play I had ever seen with Orr and Phil Esposito. It was fun to watch. They scored a ton of goals, they were in a ton of fights, they had a bunch of free-spirited guys and they loved to play. You could tell just by watching. When they won the Cup in 1970 I think a lot of people thought we might have another dynasty in the making -- a team that would win five or six Stanley Cups.

I put them at five because they underachieved, but if you look at the team that beat them twice and stopped that dynasty it was the Montreal Canadiens. This was a real fun team to watch. It was Bobby Orr in his prime, it was Espo in his prime, Derek Sanderson in his prime, Johnny Bucyk in his prime -- it had everything. It was an awesome team to watch. You never missed an opportunity to watch the Boston Bruins in 1970.

4. 1982 New York Islanders

I always said about the Islanders that if you walked into the rink in the second period, you couldn't tell if they were winning or losing. That was how they played. They were just a machine. They had no weaknesses, they could score with Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, they were great defensively, great in net, and just very deep. They were tough because they had to come up during the Flyers Broad Street Bullies era, but they could also beat you with skill. They were so consistent. They never went into a slump, they never had any breakdowns.

They were just a great, great team.

3. 1987 Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers had five Cups in seven years. Can you imagine that 1987 team? Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey, Lowe, McSorley. It was just phenomenal how talented that team was. The '87 team won it in seven games against Philadelphia, which was just a great series, but this team changed the way the game was played. It was wide open then, it was end to end, it was fast and no one did it better than the Edmonton Oilers. It was a phenomenal group they had together for those seven or eight years when they were the dominant team by far in the NHL.

I picked the '87 team because the early teams that won the Cup were a little bit younger and by 1987 they had matured. They were winners. They expected to win and everyone was scared of them. It may be the most talented group ever assembled on one team. If that team stayed together and Pocklington didn't sell Gretzky, how many Cups could that team have won? In 1993, I had Kurri, Gretzky and McSorley in Los Angeles and they were still great players.

2. 1978 Montreal Canadiens

The 1978 Montreal Canadiens dominated the NHL, with Ken Dryden keeping the crease clear for his Habs' teammates. (Photo: Getty Images)
They had four straight Cups, and this group of guys was losing maybe seven or eight games a year in a 72-game season. It was such a dominant group of players: Lafleur, Cournoyer, Lapointe, Savard, Robinson, Kenny Dryden -- what a team. Just an awesome, awesome group of talented players. Looking over this, there are so many great Montreal teams, but this 1978 team was just an unbelievable group of players with an unbelievable coach in Scotty Bowman.

1. 1958 Montreal Canadiens

If you win five Cups in a row, you've got to be great. I picked the '58 team, coached by Toe Blake, because it's in the middle of the five straight Cups so you have the maturity, all the guys have been together for a long time. They would have been stronger than the team that won the first won in 1956. Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, probably the best forward and defenseman in the game, and Jacques Plante in net, probably the best goalie in the game.

To win five Cups in a row, to have that hunger and be that amazing is just a phenomenal feat by that organization.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.23.2011 / 8:19 PM - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: 5 greatest defensemen

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 season.

Scorers get the glory, but defensemen are often the backbone of a team -- and some of the greatest players in the League's history have been on the blue line. Here are my five greatest defensemen of all time:

5. Paul Coffey

Maybe, if you look at the list, maybe he's not a great defensive defenseman, but his numbers are staggering. He's got 396 goals, 1,531 points and he was a plus-294 in his career. He won four Stanley Cups and played in the Final seven times. He was great on the power play. He was arguably one of the greatest skaters that ever played our game. I've looked at other guys like Denis Potvin, Larry Robinson, Brad Park, or Brian Leetch, but I just couldn't overlook Paul Coffey's offensive numbers and the fact that he won all those Stanley Cups.

Paul Coffey racked up four Stanley Cups to go with his 396 goals and 1,531 points over a 21-year NHL career. (Photo: Getty Images)
In Edmonton, Gretzky and all those forwards needed a defenseman like Coffey. He opened up so much room for them. For that free-wheeling offense Edmonton had, they needed that defenseman that joined the rush and was dangerous, and Coffey was the perfect defenseman for that style of play. In Pittsburgh he went to an offensive team, and the same when he went to Detroit. It's no use putting a thoroughbred with fallow horses, so he was always with wide open offensive teams. That's one of the reasons his numbers are great, but those types of teams fit his style. The coaches on those teams were smart enough to realize what they had and they didn't try to change him. They let him go and he was dangerous. On 5-on-5 he was dangerous, shorthanded, on the power play -- he was scary. With him Edmonton's power play was even scarier. Yeah, Gretzky was on it, Messier was on it, Kurri was on it, but Coffey was usually the guy bringing the puck up the ice on the power play.

4. Nicklas Lidstrom

He might move up on this list the more he plays. He just reached 1,500 games, he's got 255 goals, 1,112 points, four Stanley Cups, he was great on the international stage at the Worlds and the Olympics, and he was a high plus-player. He always plays against the opponent's top forward and he always shuts the guy down. He's got great playoff numbers. Just a phenomenal player. He's never hurt, he's very durable, he's just so good at everything. He doesn't have a weakness.

The funny part is, apart from Bobby Orr, all the guys on this list played a long time. But Nicky, playing in this era with as many games as Detroit played -- don't forget, Detroit usually played at least 20 playoff games every year, too -- his offseason was very short. Still, the guy could do anything. He killed penalties, he could play the power play, he could play a speed game, he could play a grind and checking game. He just didn't have a weakness. You could say Coffey had a weakness -- he wasn't a great defensive defenseman. Lidstrom isn't as good as Coffey offensively, but he's still a great offensive defenseman and he's one of the greatest defensive defensemen we've ever seen.

3. Ray Bourque

The guy is phenomenal. He's got 410 goals, 1,579 points, 1,612 games, and he finally got a Stanley Cup. He's a lot like Lidstrom. He always goes on the ice against the other team's best player, he's a great defensive defenseman, and he played in that small rink in Boston, too. That didn't help a guy like Bourque. If Bourque could have gotten on a bigger ice surface he would have been a lot harder to check. I think that little rink in Boston effected him. Just like Lidstrom the guy did not have a weakness. Bourque was great offensively, great defensively, he was a great passer with the puck, he had a great shot from the point, he ran a great power play. So, so perfectly balanced offensively and defensively. Just a great, great hockey player.

As for the way he went out, the last game of his career he got to carry the Cup around. That's how stories and movies are finished. Ray Bourque was able to do that, and since it was his only Cup it meant even more to him. He knew how hard it was to win a Cup. All those years with the Bruins he couldn't do it, so knowing it was his last game, can you imagine what a moment that was for Ray Bourque? The only negative thing was that he couldn't do it in Boston.

2. Doug Harvey

Doug Harvey made 11 consecutive All-Star teams and won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo: Getty Images)
I'm a big believer in guys that changed the game and Doug Harvey changed the game. Before Doug defensemen never joined the rush, they never scored goals. Their job was strictly to get the puck to the forwards and not even cross the blue line at the far end. Doug created a little offense. He had 88 goals for the Montreal Canadiens, a number of Stanley Cups. He was Bobby Orr before there was Bobby Orr. He changed the game. The really great players changed the game, and Doug changed the game in the 50's and 60's.

Guys that know Harvey, if you talk to those guys and you ask them who was the glue of those great Canadiens teams, they all say, "Doug Harvey". Jean Beliveau was unbelievable and Maurice Richard too, but they say the real glue of that team was Doug Harvey. He was an unbelievable passer of the puck, too. One second it was on his tape and the next second it was on Beliveau's tape. It's a shame young guys don't know Doug Harvey. He played before TV was big, but this guy was just a pleasure to watch.

1. Bobby Orr

He created the offensive defenseman. There wouldn't be a Ray Bourque, there wouldn't be a Paul Coffey if there wasn't a Bobby Orr. He took what Harvey did and magnified it a million times. Not only joining the rush but leading the rush, not only joining the scoring race but leading the scoring race. He had shocking plus/minus numbers. One season he was plus-124. The Boston power play was scary with him on it. He did stuff that no one ever did. He revolutionized the way hockey was played. Anyone who changed the game like Orr is the best. There's no doubt in my mind that he was the greatest defenseman that ever played.

The only argument you could get into is "is he the greatest player that ever played? Is it Gretzky or Orr?" They both changed the game. The only knock on Bobby Orr is he only played 657 games due to injuries. Can you imagine the numbers he would have if he played as many games as Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey? In 657 games he had 915 points. He had over a point per game as a defenseman. The numbers would be shockingly similar to Gretzky's if he played the same king of time as Coffey or Bourque. Gretzky had more assists than anyone else had points. Orr's numbers would have been like that. If he played a normal career of 15 years his numbers would have been out of this world.
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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 10:07 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's second 'Mullet of the Week' winner is ...

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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 11:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

The greatest sweaters in NHL history

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 season. 

When it comes to jerseys, I'm a traditionalist. I hate third jerseys. I love the history of our sport, I love the tradition of our sport, and you'll see that in my favorite sweaters. Today's jerseys are too busy. They're scared to be simple. Maybe that's what the kids want: the bells and whistles and all the stuff going on. People think different means more, but if you look at the jerseys I've picked you'll see they're very simple. I still think that makes the greatest jersey. Just look at the Green Bay Packers of the NFL. To me the simple jerseys are the best by far.

Here are the five greatest sweaters in NHL history:

5. Buffalo Sabres

I love the Buffalo Sabres jerseys, but I'm talking about the "French Connection" Buffalo Sabres of the early 70s. Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert -- the jerseys that Buffalo had when it came into the NHL. I just love the colors, and I love the striped socks, which are very similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs' striped socks. It was a different color than the old original six though. Very similar, but the colors popped and were sort of innovative for the time.

4. Boston Bruins

These are the Bobby Orr Boston Bruins of the 60s and 70s. They had the socks that were striped right from the bottom to the top, very simple, and I loved the black and yellow. When I played for the Cincinnati Stingers in the WHA, we basically had the same jerseys as the Boston Bruins. They were simple, the colors popped, and they had the yellow circle spoked "B" on their chest. Just a great jersey. I think I might love it so much because you used to see Bobby Orr skating around in it scoring all those goals and making all those great plays. Just a great look.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

I played in Toronto in the late 70s and early 80s when they switched to the jerseys with lines down the shoulders. Awful. I waited my whole life to play for Toronto and I never got to wear the traditional Toronto jerseys from the 1960s, which I think are the third greatest sweater of all time. I was excited about playing for the Leafs. They were my team forever and I always dreamed of wearing the old jerseys from when they won three straight Stanley Cups with Dave Keon. The jerseys are so simple, the blue and the white, the simple small Maple Leaf embroidered on the front. It's just great. They're sort of going back to them now, but it was always a mistake to switch it in the late 1970s. Philly brought the shoulder colors all the way down and a lot of teams started doing it. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.

2. Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings have maybe the greatest crest in sports: The Winged Wheel. It's so simple, but it's just perfect. The wing symbolizes the speed of hockey. The wheel is Detroit, the car capital of the world. The embroidery on the red and white jersey, so simple on the front. A couple of red stripes here and there. Just a great jersey. The colors are good, but the crest is always what I thought set that uniform apart from everybody else. The Wings haven't even made minor changes in decades and there's a reason why. It'd be sacrilegious. That crest is so perfect. Other teams if you look at the TV quick you can't necessarily tell who it is, but if you just glance at the TV and you see the Red and white, you know it's the Detroit Red Wings.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

This is the greatest jersey in sports. No doubt about it. The colors are awesome, and even the third jersey I like the most is the black Blackhawks from a few years ago, but I still love the red. I love the color and everything about it: the great crest, the crossed tomahawks. It's just so eye-popping. The socks are great. The black pants are great, and you can still see Bobby Hull flying up the wing. It's just a great jersey -- the greatest jersey in sports, hands down.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.16.2011 / 7:00 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Who are the greatest power forwards of all time?

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 campaign. 

There is a certain criteria a player has to fulfill to meet my definition of a great power forward. He has to be a frontline player, he has to be very physical and he has to fight. A power forward to me is not just a big guy who scores goals. He is a big, mean, nasty, physical, tough guy to play against as well as being a very good hockey player.

My guys will have a lot of penalty minutes, they have a lot of goals, but they were also the type of guy the other team didn't like to play against. Here are my five best power forwards to ever play in the NHL:

5. Wendel Clark

Wendel Clark played 793 NHL games for the Maple Leafs, Nordiques, Islanders, Lightning, Red Wings, and Blackhawks, racking up 330 goals and 1,690 PIMs. (Photo: Getty Images)
During the early 1990s, Wendel was probably one of the three toughest forwards in the NHL. He was scoring 40 goals a year, he was one of the best fighters in the League -- he was just a real physical presence out there. If you look at his numbers he played 793 games, he's got over 300 goals and he's got close to 1,700 penalty minutes. He could hit, he could fight and he could score goals.

I coached against him in 1993 when I was with L.A. and Wendel was with Toronto and Wendel was their best player. We stopped Doug Gilmour, we stopped Dave Andreychuk, but we just couldn't stop Wendel. It seemed like he scored every game against us. Gilmour got a lot of ink, Andreychuk scored a lot of goals, but to me, Wendel was the heart and soul of that team. I will always remember late in Game 1 of our playoff series against the Leafs in 1993 when Gilmour came across the middle and Marty McSorely hit him with a great check. Wendel came in and he and Marty had what I think was the last great fight in the playoffs. It was late in the game, they already had it won, but here's Wendel still sticking up for his teammates fighting one of the toughest guys in the NHL.
4. Clark Gillies

Wendel's got more goals than Clark, but Clark's got the Stanley Cups. I think that means something. Look at his numbers: close to 1,000 games, over 300 goals, close to 400 assists and over 1,000 penalty minutes. If anyone knows the 80s and followed that Islanders team -- they had Bossy and they had Trottier and they had Potvin, but they were playing against those Philly teams and most nights Clark Gillies would have been the MVP. He was big, he was tough, he was good enough to play with Bossy and Trottier and he could fight anyone in the NHL to a standstill. Because he has more Cups than Wendel, I have him at No. 4.

Back then we said he "kept the flies off Bossy and Trottier". Opponents knew that if anybody did something to them they'd have to answer to Clark and that's what a power forward does. He's a deterrent. He was as tough as anyone in the NHL, but he was also an excellent hockey player. It's not just enough to be a tough guy. You have to be an excellent hockey player, too. Clark Gilles certainly was.
3. Cam Neely

Obviously Cam's numbers aren't as high is they normally would be because he was struck down by injuries, but he played over 700 games, he's got 395 goals, 299 assists and more than 1,200 penalty minutes. For a few years he was arguably one of the best players in the NHL. He was scoring 50 goals a year, he was maybe the toughest guy in the NHL, he had a rocket of a shot, and he might have been the best fighter in the NHL for the period of time he was in the NHL. Just a great, great hockey player. Without a doubt, he was one of the scariest guys in that era to play against.

If he stayed healthy his numbers, and the Bruins' would have been even more impressive. Don't forget, of the 726 games he played, he was probably on one leg for half of those. He was hurt and he was not 100 percent for most of his career. He still scored more than a goal every two games. If you put him at 1,000 games, he's got 600 goals. This guy was a great goal scorer, and on the list I have, he was probably the best fighter. If these five guys fought, I would have to say Cam Neely would probably be at the top of it.
2. Brendan Shanahan

Brendan Shanahan is a member of the Triple Gold Club, having won a Stanley Cup (1997, 1998, 2002), World Championship (1994), and Olympic gold medal (2002). (Getty Images)
In more than 1,500 games, he was durable, he scored 656 goals, had 698 assists and almost 2,500 penalty minutes. This guy did it over a long period of time. He fought everybody, his numbers are fantastic, he won Stanley Cups -- just a complete, complete player. He might not have been as tough as Neely, but he may have been a better goal scorer. He was also a great passer, tallying more assists than he did goals. What's more is that he came in as an 18-year-old, and he did it from Day 1.

As for his current job as the League's disciplinarian, I think how he played and what he went through on the ice give him a better understanding of what is going on on the ice with fighting and hitting. He's been there. He's done it. He knows what's going through the minds of tough guys and why they're fighting at that point of the game. He can tell when a fight is done on purpose or when it's done as a tool by the coach. I think Brendan, his career and what he went through as a player and how he played will make him better qualified for that job than a lot of people would have been.
1. Gordie Howe

This may be a surprise, but I think this guy was the first great power forward. More than 1,700 games, 801 goals, over 1,000 assists, but I don't know if people realize that he's got close to 1,700 penalty minutes. And he was big. In Gordie's era when he first came in, hockey players weren't very big. They'd be 5'7", 5'8", 5'9" ... Gordie was 6'2". I played against Gordie when he was in his 50s in Houston. The first thing that struck me when I saw Gordie on the ice was how big he was. He was still nasty and shifty. I can't imagine what he was like in his 20s. He was big, he was mean, he would fight, obviously he was one of the greatest goal scorers we've got in our sport and he was a great passer. If you look at power forward in the dictionary, there's probably a photo of Gordie Howe next to it.

You watch film of back in those days and he towered above guys. You see him going to the net and the D can't handle him because he's so big, so powerful and had a rocket of a wrist shot. I played against Gordie and I know. You knew where he was at all times -- and you did that because it was for your own safety.
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Posted On Friday, 10.14.2011 / 12:34 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose breaks down the best players at each position

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