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Well, so much for the "Koules and Barrie would never admit to a mistake" idea --  even though they did this late on a Friday. Sportsnet is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have fired head coach Barry Melrose. Damien Cristodero of the St. Pete Times confirms it, and offers this release from the 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."

If you listen really closely, you can hear John Tortorella guffawing right now.

The Lightning are 5-7-4, with 14 points. But one look at their stats shows the sort of chemistry disaster this roster has been. Every whisper behind the scenes about Tampa has been about Melrose's disorganization and lack of preparedness for this gig.

Melrose couldn't organize the players, couldn't motivate them. He was in a constant state of psychological warfare with them. The depth lines of this team were invisible, and that's a whole lot of money to be paying something invisible. The team had no style, no personality. Perhaps that's out of its construction; or perhaps Melrose couldn't give them one.

In the span of just over eight months, Rick Tocchet has gone from serving a two-year banishment for gambling to becoming the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Incredible.

So long, Melrose. You were not made for these NHL times. Maybe Matthew Barnaby needs a research assistant.

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