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Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Barry Melrose Relieved Of His Duties

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

– Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Barry Melrose has been relieved of his duties and Associate Coach Rick Tocchet has been elevated to interim head coach, Executive Vice President & General Manager Brian Lawton announced today. Melrose, 52, was named the sixth head coach in Lightning history on June 24, and compiled a 5-7-4 record this season.

“This was a tough decision to make,” Lawton said. “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.”

Tocchet is in his 25th year in the NHL as either a player or a coach. He played 18 seasons with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and Phoenix, appearing in 1,144 career games and recording 440 goals, 952 points and 2,972 penalty minutes.  He also appeared in 145 playoff games and netted 52 goals with 112 points and 471 penalty minutes.

Shortly after retiring in 2002, Tocchet joined the Colorado Avalanche as an assistant coach.  He spent a season and a half on the bench with the Avalanche before joining former teammate Wayne Gretzky as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005. He was named associate coach of the Lightning on July 9, 2008.

Tocchet is one of two players in the history of the NHL to record 400 goals or more and at least 2,500 penalty minutes.  He recorded three 40-goal seasons, two 30-goal seasons and was an 11-time 20-goal scorer. In 1992-93 he set career highs for goals with 48, assists with 61 and points with 109 with the Penguins.  Internationally, Tocchet represented Canada at the 1990 and 1991 World Championship as well as in the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments.
The Scarborough, Ontario native won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 and appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals with Philadelphia in 1987.  He was selected to four NHL All-Star teams (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993). Originally drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth-round, 125th overall, at the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Tocchet began his career with the Flyers in 1984-85 and retired midway through the 2001-02 season, also with Philadelphia.  

Melrose spent three seasons (1992-95) as the head coach in Los Angeles, leading the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 1993. Melrose began his coaching career in 1987 when he led the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers to a 44-22-6 record and the Memorial Cup title. Melrose also coached the Seattle Thunderbirds for the 1988-89 season and the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League for three seasons (1989-92). Melrose guided the Red Wings to the Calder Cup championship in 1991. Prior to joining the Lightning, Melrose served as NHL studio analyst for ESPN and ESPN2.

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