Tampa Bay owner accused of ‘coaching' Bolts by hockey ‘insider'

Al Strachan must have something against the Tampa Bay Lightning because he's done a pretty good job pissing them off in the last year.

Let's go back to last February, during Hockey Night in Canada's "Hotstove" segment, when he told the hockey world that Vincent Lecavalier would demand a trade over the summer -- with a likely destination being Montreal.

Almost exactly four months to the day Strachan said that, Lecavalier signed an 11-year, $85 million extension, assuring he'll spend the rest of his career in Tampa Bay.

This past weekend, Strachan was at it again by "reporting" (video) that a Lightning player had told him Tampa Bay co-owner Len Barrie went into the locker room during one the games in Prague and began diagramming power-play and shorthanded strategies. 

Barrie and head coach Barry Melrose were none too happy with Strachan, and decided to throw both the B.S. and the spaghetti at the hockey "insider."

From Lightning Strikes:

"What a joke. I mean, come on," Barrie said. "We've got four capable coaches to do that. The day we don't think they are capable of handling that is the day I don't go into the locker room to diagram plays but to make a change (at coach)."

"Al is sort of a spaghetti salesman," Melrose said. "Al just throws so much against the wall and hopes something sticks. It's B.S. Al thrives on B.S. It's total lies."

Now, while having someone else script the power-play might sound like a good idea while the Lightning went 0-for-9 in their two games against the New York Rangers in the Czech Republic, this blatant "example" of undermining Melrose would have boiled over by now (Dan Boyle-style) -- if true, of course.

Would Melrose be so desperate to prove he can coach in the "new" National Hockey League that he'd be willing to allow outside help in instructing his team, specifically from one of the teams' owners?

Back to Strachan: It's good to see a reporter with, ahem, such solid sources as a regular on Hockey Night. It's quite the stark contrast on both sides of the Hotstove set with Pierre LeBrun, a non-sensationalist reporter and Strachan, whose past rumors are very much that of a spaghetti salesman. 

The next time you hear him bring up any rumor on the Hotstove segment, please keep in mind the words of Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke, who reacted with this after hearing he was about to trade Brendan Morrison and Bryan Allan for Michael Peca back in 2001:

"The fact that Al Strachan reported this trade rumour by itself should make it suspect," Burke told the Globe and Mail. "His accuracy rate on rumours like this is non-existent.

"The fact that a respected media like Hockey Night in Canada would allow this type of garbage to be aired is ridiculous."

Unfortunately, the amount of print, airtime and Internet blog space that both the Lecavalier and Barrie stories have been given are justifiable in the minds of Hockey Night executives; whether or not, in the end, they are credible.

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