The Day Joe Thornton Met TPS Writer Ron Canada
How About a Nice Euro Vacation Before Telling You “You’re Fired”
First Barry Melrose was fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, then the Ottawa Senators redid themselves of Craig Hartsburg. Michel Therrien was fired about a week ago by the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins, and now Tom Renney has completed the sweep. All four coaches began the 08-09 regular season of the NHL overseas in Europe with the Pens facing the Sens and the Rangers squaring off for two against the Lightning.So who or what is to blame here? Have all these teams simply suffered from a European hangover or are there other factors to be considered. Here are some suggestions on each team:
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning are just plain bad. They have superstars like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, but after that there is little to be optimistic about. Their poor start should have been of little surprise and because of this the firing of Melrose could be somewhat questionable. They finished near the bottom of the standings last year, hence first overall pick Steve Stamkos. As for their big “Seen Stamkos?” promotion. Well my answer to that would be no, but if you could tell me when he will start playing, I would love to watch.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators are a question mark in themselves. Sometimes it seems as though they have a solid team, but in reality their problems go far deeper than the players and coaches. Getting rid of players like Chara (instead of Redden), Redden (instead of Phillips), Corvo, Hossa and Havlat over the years has had detrimental effects on the once powerhouse club. Hartsburg was definitely not the one to blame here. Instead, fingers should be pointed at management who have failed to solidify what was once a top tier defense and a deep offense. One thing that can be said though is that Cory Clouston has revitalized a sluggish team, but how long this will last is anyone’s guess.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The defending Eastern Conference champs have not met expectations this season, but when you really look at it, there are legitimate reasons. The loss of Hossa, Malone and Roberts to free agency and Gonchar and others to injury have diminished the once deep team. Crosby and Malkin appear to be in top flight, but the Penguins have little to offer after that and Fleury is looking like the same guy who scored in his net in the finals of the World Junior Championships. Therrien may have taken the bullet, but he can only coach the players, not produce them.
New York Rangers: An interesting story here. Tom Renney had his Rangers sitting in a tie for 5th place and just 2 points out of the division lead, but I guess a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs is good enough reason to let anyone go. The Rangers have been struggling and find themselves falling fast, but the timing of such a coaching change is still questionable. Don’t all teams hit a rough patch at some point? As for the Euro hangover. The Rangers started off the season in first in the division. No excuses there.