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Greg Wyshynski

Melrose offers soft denial; Tortorella out when TB owner approved

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Some new details on that Barry Melrose to Tampa Bay story that broke yesterday. The Tampa Tribune cited a source inside the Tampa Bay Lightning who said that John Tortorella's tenure as head coach will end as soon as Hollywood producer Oren Koules is approved as the new owner on or around June 18. Meanwhile, Melrose offered a rather un-emphatic denial on SportsCenter regarding the torrid rumors about his taking over the Bolts: "I want to coach again in the NHL. But nothing's going on. Uh, I work for ESPN and I'm very happy working for ESPN." Uh-huh. We're sure those 11 p.m. hits on ESPNews are a lot more enjoyable than coaching Vinny Lecavalier.

Meanwhile, the St. Pete Times publishes a story today that details even more cash flow problems for Koules and the prospective owners. While current owners Palace Sports claim that OK Hockey has every intention to keep the Lightning in Tampa, the Times reports that Koules' group "doesn't have the money to assume guarantees in place to repay taxpayer subsidies if the team moves in the next decade." The paper also reports that "the negotiating lawyers have floated the idea of the NHL guaranteeing the team stay in Tampa."

So the new owners don't have a few extra millions. But they might have a Mullet in a pimp suit coaching the team, so at a minimum it'll look like they have used car salesman money. Which is better than nothing.

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