I sure hope that Barry Melrose enjoyed going on that Toronto radio station last week and saying that he hopes the Tampa Bay Lightning - the team that fired him 16 games into his first season at the helm - “doesn’t win a game in the next year.” Because it looks like that while he might have fired the first salvo in a war of words with the team, the Lightning might have the equivalent of the atomic bomb left to drop.
ROGERS SPORTSNET is reporting that the team’s ownership is looking at filing a breach of contract charge against the Mulleted One, claiming that his comments violated terms of his deal. If the comments were enough to void the contract, that would mean that the Lightning would be off the hook for the rest of the $2.25 million they owe him.
I don’t know what ESPN is going to be paying Melrose when he returns to the network on January 1, but $2.25 million is a lot of hair gel. I would imagine that he could practically buy Brylcreem for that much.
Needless to say, it’s probably a good thing that Melrose won’t have much reason to talk about the Lightning during the two-minute segment he and John Buccigross will be given each night to wrap up all the NHL games. Tampa Bay has been almost as bad as Melrose wished for, going 2-7-4 since he was shown the door to have the worst record in the league.
This all might seem very petty, but $2.25 million is nothing to sneeze at, especially as NHL teams are struggling with the current economy. I have no idea if this will work for the Lightning, but if Al Davis can avoid ever having to pay coaches he fires, why should Tampa Bay?