I have been a Berry Melrose fan for many years. Not only do I remember him mentoring Gretzky and The Kings to the best that team could do at that time, but he was THE ONLY reason to watch ESPN for years because, without him, there was no Hockey on that channel. So I am sorry he is gone from the Lightning bench because my personal sense of nostalgia says that decision suited my sensibilities.
And I am also an analyst for On Goal Analysis. So I instinctively know that the margin of error between a win and a loss and making or not making the playoffs is very thin. I also know that the seasons since the Lockout indicate that 2/3 of the NHL's playoff fate is decided by 1 January each year.
So I would offer that there is a distinct possibility that Lightning management understands this and decided that the play of the team was so substandard that things must be fixed right away or the team may be facing imminent Playoff disaster for this season.
Remember that last year's Capitals team is an example of how positive change can come from that big move - like replacing the coach - early in the season.
Also remember that management 'guaranteed' fans that Tampa Bay would be in the playoffs THIS season. They went out and bought a talented team. They are not the worst team in terms of goals against despite the SOGs they give up. Mike Smith has one of the highest save percentages in the league.
But they have trouble scoring and putting out enough effort on the ice. Just possibly, management believes what they promised should be delivered, know it is not, and need to correct those areas they believe can positively affect the "W" column.
Their method is General George Patton's management style of replacing those in command until he finds the one that can do the job. It is not a system, as some would suggest, of discarded people like so many limbs and digits on the floor on a SAW movie soundstage.
What the players that are NOT putting out should know is this management team is not afraid to suffer the slings and arrows of public pundits to grow a winner RIGHT NOW, like they promised. And that is not a bad thing to understand and respond to.
If you see Hockey as I do, that it is a battle each and every day to place a winning team on the ice that fights for the 'W,' then this could easily be viewed as a management team that, while unorthodox, is only lacking success at this point - which would be entering the playoffs this season - to prove that their style is just as much a winner as anyone else in the business.
Tampa Bay management is, at this moment in time in my opinion, simply misunderstood and they need only win to bring on a media epiphany.