Hiring Melrose was an abysmal mistake from the very beginning, and although the owners are responsible for it, at least they corrected the mistake earlier rather than later.
Did the players have something to do with Melrose getting dismissed. Yes, it seems like they did. But it does NOT sound like they did so because he was being too tough on them. How soon people forget that a number of these guys played for Tortorella and did so for quite some time. Torts gave them all the tough love they could handle and they did handle it - although in Tort's final year it started to fall on deaf ears. The difference between Melrose and Torts appears to be that Torts had a a clear-cut black and white system to go with the hammer, while Melrose had no structured system to speak of with lots of meandering grey area.
Melrose's one apparent message? 'Play hard and earn your ice time.' That's it. Nothing of more substance like how to go about learning the supposed "system", no communication of what to do in a particular situation. Just basically wing it out there but of course play with courage - no rules (because 'he is not a rules guy' or direction). Care to elaborate once, Barry? One player basically equated it to shinny hockey - the team has looked confused and frustrated and it doesn't seem far-fetched that they would be given the circumstances. The Melrose philosophy wasn't helping a new roster mesh with each other and play as a unit - they have been playing like individuals and it shows - big time.
In a Lawton interview, he said that the players were adamant that they wanted/needed a system, wanted the coaching staff to provide direction on positioning and roles - hence, the decision to replace Melrose with Tocchet. This wasn't , in my opinion, about not wanting to play with a hardnosed work ethic but everything to do with not wanting a mere figurehead coach who wasted no time throwing them under the bus. Calling the players out after one game after a shortened training camp when he didn't have any words of wisdom- and here I thought he had been hired to be the counterpart to Torts - the players coach who treated his guys like men (Melrose's synopsis of what Tortorella did not do). Not sure how he was supposed to earn the respect in the locker room when he apparently delivered nothing but hollow words.
In one game under Tocchet, the team already looks to be heading in the right direction - small things like limiting the # of shots against to the fewest this year, a PP that actually set up in their zone, although didn't convert when they needed it in OT, actually running the bench and showing some emotion - Melrose hadn't done that in those 16 games - it was always Tocchet talking to the players. The players actually respect Tocchet.
And to those pointing out the record could be worse (like Melrose had actually done something right) - it would be if not for the outstanding play of Smith and Kolzig. Those two get shelled nightly yet keep the team in the game. Goaltending is the absolute LAST issue Tampa has. If the rest of the team could get on track (as the potential is there), then this team could be quite good.
As far as Stamkos is concerned, he will be just fine. The instability in Tampa hasn't helped him one bit. The lack of any real 'teaching' from the coaching staff and cohesion on the bench are not ideal lessons for Stamkos to be exposed to while trying to make the transition to the NHL level. Management of Stamkos' ice time has been mishandled up to this point - I don't think the # of minutes he has been logging has had to do with him not working hard or trying to give his best. Melrose, in my opinion, had been mishandling many player's ice time and not taking advantage of players' strengths (i.e. not playing Lecavalier or St. Louis on the PK unit when they are actually pretty efficient at it and present a threat short-handed).
The best thing for Stamkos is the firing of Melrose. The entire team, especially Steven, needed a structured system - one that is still based upon hard work ethic and now speed. With Tocchet at the helm, Tampa is moving in the right direction.
And to the poster that suggested St. Louis contract is horrible - you couldn't be more wrong. He actually has one of the best contracts in the league for all that he brings and is also what makes him invaluable. St. louis' cap hit is 5.25M. He is due to make 5M this year and 4M for the 2 seasons following this one.
Anyway, Melrose belongs behind a TV booth and the owners should have left him there instead of asking friends Blake and Robitaille who they recommended and running with it.