Unlike precious few others in the sports world -- actually a total of none come to mind -- Barry Melrose doesn't seem to have a single detractor. It's almost impossible not to like the guy. His down-to-earth personna, devilish smile, contagious laugh, and willingness to be the butt of a joke (he can dish too) are admirable traits indeed. Well, OK, maybe the hair could use a tweak, but hey, there's lots of things harder on the eyes than the slick-back, duck-tail look Melrose sports. Have you checked out Don Cherry's outfits over the years?
But there is no doubt Barry Melrose knows his hockey. He was a former player that worked his way up through various teams to the NHL, and did the same as a coach after his playing days were over. Granted, Melrose wasn't exactly a superstar in either venture over the years, but he did once coach the LA Kings to the Stanley Cup finals. Regardless, it could safely be said Barry's been there and done that before he became an "analyst". The man knows what he's talking about.
One need look no further than this year's playoffs. Before they even began, Melrose picked the Chicago Black Hawks to win the Cup. They just did. Sure, Chicago is a team loaded with talent so picking them to win hardly qualifies as a miracle.
But consider the Finals themselves. Before they even started Melrose said the Black Hawks would prevail in 6 games. After three games, the Hawks found themselves down 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In order for Barry's prediction to come true, the Hawks would have to win the next 3 games in a row against a team that hadn't lost three in a row all year. Yet even then, he stuck with his prediction. And that's exactly what happened. The Chitowners just won their 3rd Cup in the last 6 years. Very impressive stuff, both for the team and Melrose calling the shot.
Alas, some incompetence and/or flat-out stupidity was involved at the end. The Black Hawks had just won the Cup in their hometown for the first time since way back in 1938. Their two recent clinching victories had come on the road.
The Black Hawk players were jubilant. Their fans in attendance were delirious with excitement and celebration. The presentation of the Holy Grail of hockey, Lord Stanley's cup, was upon them. Players could take turns holding it over their heads skating around while Black Hawk fans everywhere rejoiced.
But the cup wasn't there.
Incredibly, the explanation given was the cup was held up in traffic somewhere and would be a little late. Granted, Chicago has been experiencing some heavy rain for the last couple days, but there's no excuse -- NONE -- why the NHL couldn't get the cup there after the Hawks had taken a 3-2 lead in Tampa two full days before. It was a possible championship game and they had a full 48 hours to get a parcel there. It's not like it was a tank, a entire furnished condominium or even Chris Christie. It was merely a trophy. But they couldn't get it there on time. The stand at center ice of the United Center sat Cupless while everybody wondered what the hell was going on.
Then again, Gary Bettman is still the NHL commissioner, and ultimately in charge of all such matters-- right? Maybe such a huge blunder shouldn't have been totally unexpected after all. You can bet, man, that if there's a way to screw something up, Gary will find it.
In a perfect world, a job swap would be in order. Make Barry Melrose the Commish. Everybody likes him and he knows what he's doing. Put the not-so-beloved shrimpy Bettman on TV as an analyst. Good grief, isn't a Commish supposed to know a little about the sport he's overseeing? Let that clown rattle on for a few shows and he'd likely be fired by whatever network took him on board in the first place. The viewers would demand it. In the end, the NHL would be much better served all-around.
But for now, congrats to the Chicago Black Hawks, well-deserving Stanley Cup champions. Hope the hardware finally got there.......