July 22, 2008
Outside of the Red Menace, the most contentious topic of the hockey summer has been the new ownership and management of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Tampa Tribune has a feature story today on Oren Koules, the Hollywood producer who purchased the Bolts with partner Len Barrie (left, below) and promptly stunned the hockey world by hiring ESPN analyst Barry Melrose has head coach.
The one thing all three have in common, besides as apparent determination to win in the NHL without any discernable defense, is that they're well-coiffed. So the Tribune asks Koules the tough question: Who has the best hair amongst himself, Barrie and Melrose?
I do! I don't put any product in. Melrose uses gel. Barrie gets it highlighted every six weeks, with the aluminum and everything. This is natural. Wash and wear.
Glad that's settled.
The Lightning continue to make news off the ice: Hiring former Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames goalie Mike Vernon as some kind of scout/assistant GM/quasi-coach/handyman, and having Melrose promise some wacky team bonding hi-jinks during the team's European trip to start the season. And as Leahy pointed out, the Ice Girls auditions are nearly here, which explains the run on skin-colored tights in the Tampa area. Oh, and Ryan Malone revealed that a fortune cookie that said "Don't be afraid to take the next big step" helped him sign with Tampa Bay. Seriously.
But adding defensemen to the rather uninspiring unit that's currently on the roster? Yeah, haven't gotten around to that yet.
Matt Carle, Filip Kuba and Paul Ranger are a solid trio; then you have your Andrew Hutchinson, Shane O'Brien, Alexandre Picard, Mike Lundin and Matt Smaby. The Lightning and the Thrashers are by far the most underwhelming defensive corps in the division, but at least Atlanta has attempted to address that weakness with a guy like Ron Hainsey. Tampa continues to have a log-jam at forward, so you'd expect something to arrive on the blue line via a trade. But right now, Bolts Blogs' four forwards/one defenseman theory is looking disturbingly like an improvement on the current model.
You need defense or a defensive system to win in the NHL, and the Lightning don't have either. (Unless Barry Melrose has morphed into Jacques Lemaire over the last decade.) We liberally drink the Koules-Aid here on Puck Daddy. But the waiver wire deals for defensemen we blogged about earlier this month never happened, and this blue line needs help. This ain't Roller Hockey International -- defense matters.