We've all heard that adage about head coaches in pro sports.
When a team starts losing..."it's easier to fire the coach than fire 20 players."
However, when those 12...15...20...however many players just don't have the experience and refined talent to win consistently, is it really the fault of the man in the suit?
There have been two questionable firings so far this season, and in both situations, the teams who did the firing are simply too raw to be competitive, at no fault of the coach who was fired.
In Oklahoma City, the Thunder are just too young. Sure, Kevin Durant is one of the most dynamic young players in the NBA, so it's easy to forget that he's just in his second pro season. But when you look at the players surrounding him, they're either equally as young and inexperienced (Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green), a veritable draft bust (Nick Collison) and several players who would look lost playing basketball anywhere (Johan Petro and Chris Wilcox).
In short, the Thunder are simply just not a very good basketball team. With a few more good draft picks and possibly some shrewd free agent moves, they still have the pieces in place to be at least a competitive team.
So why pull the rug out and get rid of the only coach that some of these players know? PJ Carlesimo was unceremoniously released a few weeks ago...one of four head coaches in the Association to already lose his job...and I feel like out of all of them, he was the least deserving. While Eddie Jordan, Sam Mitchell and Randy Wittman all failed to capitalize on their past success and with the talent infusion they each received (with the exception of Wittman, who was just in a hopeless situation in Minnesota), Carlesimo was never even given the chance to succeed.
Down the Sun Belt in Tampa, an even more egregious firing took place...one that has already stunted a young team and possibly the development of their brightest prospect.
You can say all you want about how Barry Melrose may have lost touch with the game of hockey during his 12 years as the lead NHL analyst at ESPN, but you can never question his enthusiasm and passion for the game.
It makes his outster after just 16 games behind the bench in Tampa Bay just that more mind-boggling.
It's incredible how the Lightning have sunk so swiftly to the bottom of the NHL standings just four years removed from a Stanley Cup title, especially with players like Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Paul Ranger on the roster. It's the effects of poor management and poor coaching that led them to this spot.
Maybe Melrose wasn't the long-term solution to the problems in Central Florida, but it's hard to judge that when he was only given a month and a half to be the team's head coach. From what I have been told by sources, Barry wasn't happy with how hands-on the ownership and front office were with the on-ice product. When he tried to get them to retreat, he was fired.
The worst thing about the entire Melrose/Lightning fiasco is it's effects on #1 pick and super-rookie Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay struck a coup when they landed Stamkos and Melrose was trying to give him every opportunity to get ample playing time and invaluable experience; now that Rick Tocchet is in charge, Steven's minutes have decreased. Melrose said in an interview with The Fan 590 in Toronto that Stamkos is not NHL ready but he was trying to get him there. Now, I imagine it will take extra years to get him ready to play every night in the NHL, if he's ever ready, period.