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Melrose feels Stevens' pain

Wednesday, 12.09.2009 / 4:10 PM / News

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The Philadelphia Flyers became the first team to fire their coach last Friday, replacing John Stevens with former Carolina Hurricanes bench boss Peter Laviolette. ESPN analyst Barry Melrose, who knows a thing or two about getting fired, says it's just part of the territory of an NHL coach.

"I've been fired twice," Melrose said, referring to his stints with the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. "If you're going to coach, you've got to expect this. It's going to happen sooner or later. Even Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz, who have been there 10-12 years, it's going to happen to them eventually too."

Melrose says every coach has a window of opportunity for getting through to his players, and sometimes it shuts on you despite the talent with which you have on your team.

"I've always said a coach has a three-year window. After that you've run out of new ways of saying what you believe in and players got tired of listening to what you believe in, and that's what happened to John Stevens," Melrose said. "And what happened was expectations. This is a good team, it's a talented team, they spent money this summer, they brought in Pronger, and this team is supposed to be one of the best teams in the East and it's one of the worst teams in the East. That's a recipe for the coach being fired.

"Peter Laviolette is a good coach, he's won a Stanley Cup, he's a little different than John Stevens, he's much more passionate, he's much more abrasive, angry, so he's an entirely different coach than John Stevens, and that's what you're looking for when you make a coaching change."

Sometimes one coach's success can be every other coach's nightmare. Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were scuffling and fired coach Michel Therrien. After replacing him with Dan Bylsma, the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup.

"Pittsburgh fires a coach, they're out of the playoffs, and bang, they end up wining the Stanley Cup," Melrose said. "So when that happens for one team, the other teams say if it worked in Pittsburgh it'll work in Philly." 
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