It's believed new Tampa owner Oren Koules is the driving force behind the hiring of Melrose, who led the Los Angeles Kings to the the 1993 Stanley Cup final against Montreal. In recent years, the Kelvington, Sask. native has been a featured analyst on ESPN.As Cox later notes, Melrose's departure is going to blow a hole in ESPN's coverage of the NHL, much of which is centered around him. Although he took on a lower profile at the WWL when ESPN declined to renew its contract to carry the NHL in the wake of the lockout, Melrose continued to serve as the network's lead hockey analyst, often appearing online beside ESPN.com contributor E.J. Hradek and hosting a regular podcast called The Melrose Line.
Koules, once partnered with former Columbus president Doug MacLean to buy the Lightning before that collaboration broke up, is looking for a marquee name to help sell and market the club in central Florida. Tampa, which won the 2004 Stanley Cup, missed the playoffs this year.
Melrose's hiring will surprise many NHL watchers, as will his salary, expected to be about $2 million per season.
One wonders what John Tortorella, who after all is still officially the head coach of the Lightning, thinks about this.
Maybe Larry Brooks could ask him?