Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning continued their makeover on Tuesday, naming Barry Melrose the team's new head coach.
It's been a busy few days for the Lightning, who selected Steve Stamkos with the first overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft on Friday and introduced the franchise's new ownership group on Monday.
The eight-man partnership, headed by Hollywood producer Oren Koules and former NHL player Len Barrie, then made its first official move by naming Melrose as the club's sixth head coach.
"We are very pleased that Barry signed on to become the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning," said Barrie and Koules in a joint statement. "We believe Barry offers just what this team needs and it starts with his ability to get all 20 players pushing in the same direction and playing at 100 percent night- in, night-out. We like his enthusiasm and passion for the game and we know the fans of Tampa Bay will take a liking to him."
Melrose, who most recently had served as hockey analyst for ESPN, has not been behind an NHL bench since he left the Los Angeles Kings during the lockout- shortened 1994-95 season. He posted a record of 79-101-29 in two full seasons and part of a third with the Kings, guiding the club to a surprise Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the spring of 1993. The Kings lost to the Montreal Canadiens in five games, then failed to make the playoffs the following year and a poor start to the lockout campaign in '95 cost Melrose his job.
"I'm obviously excited to be back in coaching," said Melrose. "I'm especially looking forward to the opportunity to work with great players such as Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos; they're all such talented and exciting athletes. Most of all, I have missed having a dog in the fight each season, especially at the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs."
Melrose also said Rick Tocchet and Wes Walz would be part of his coaching staff.
During his 11 years as a player, Melrose appeared in 300 career games as a defenseman in the NHL with Winnipeg, Toronto and Detroit from 1979-86, recording 10 goals with 23 assists and 728 penalty minutes. He also played three seasons with Cincinnati in the World Hockey Association from 1976-79.
The Lightning needed to replace John Tortorella, who was fired June 3 with one year remaining on his contract. Tortorella led the Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship after the 2003-04 season, but the club was bounced in the first round of the next two playoffs and finished this season dead last in the NHL, earning the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Tortorella compiled a record of 239-222-36-38 in 535 games after taking over with 43 games remaining in the 2000-01 season.