More with Melrose: On Voynov, Vegas, and Vegetables

Melrose Barry ESPNIn part one of our chat with Barry Melrose, he spoke at length about many of the key players who made up the LA Kings roster on his 1993 Stanley Cup Final team. Now, via questions from other media members, he touches on a myriad of additional topics, both historical and relevant to the future of the NHL…

On the importance of creating a winning attitude as a coach:

“[That is one of] the things I believe in. I believe in what Darryl [Sutter] is teaching. I believe in a team that’s committed to winning, I believe in a team that plays hard. I believe in a team that’s hard to play against. I believe in a team that plays very fast. I believe in character over talent, a lot of times. Basically, Darryl’s done here what I wanted to do in ’93. They’ve built a great organization, a great team here. I still think they’re going to make the playoffs, I still think they’re going to be a team that’s very, very tough to beat in the playoffs… We wanted to make this a real tough place to play. We did that [back then], and Darryl has continued that. L.A. is arguably the toughest team to play against in the NHL.”

On role players vs. skill:

“If you remember in ’93, we got Jimmy Carson in that deal and Jimmy scored six goals in the first round against Calgary. He might have been our best forward in that series. Again, I love guys that play hard, just like Darryl does. Those guys… you’re proud of them every night, you know what you’re going to get out of them every night. You need the skill guys, you need to guys that touch the puck three times and end up with two goals that night and do nothing else. You need those guys but it’s a lot easier to fall in love with a meat and potato guy.”

On some of his key memories from his time coaching the Kings:

“I can give you lots. I wish Bruce McNall would have been here tonight. I would have loved to see Bruce. Bruce used to take me and Cap [Raeder, assistant coach] downtown, to the Palms- that was Bruce’s favorite restaurant – in his Bentley. Cap loved lobster, and Bruce would buy Cap a six pound lobster. It looked like Godzilla. They’d bring it out on the plate, and I thought that Cap was killing and eating Godzilla. I’d have a 20-pound steak. Then, Bruce would take us back home in his Bentley. Not many owners do that; take the coaches out in their Bentley. It was unique team. It was a unique time, a unique place. I remember in the Toronto series, we were going into Game 6 that we had to win here. Bruce was really downcast in the morning, he was in my office and I could tell something was bothering him. I said, ‘Bruce, don’t worry. We’re going to beat them. We’ll go back to Game 7.’ He said, ‘I’m not worried about that, I know you’re going to beat them. But I have 500 movie stars who want seats and I only have 300 seats, what am I going to do?’ What other place worries about that stuff except here in LA?”

On if there was any pressure taken off of him when the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012:

“I was happy to see them win. Because I knew what a great organization was, I had a lot of friends still with the organization, and they were doing it the right way. It’s good for hockey. For the Kings to win is good for the NHL, it’s good for hockey. For Chicago to win it’s good, for the Rangers to win it’s good. We need our major markets to win. All sports need their major markets to win. In the NBA, if two of the smaller markets in the Midwest are playing, the ratings aren’t going to be as good. That’s why now we have LA is good. Detroit is always good and Chicago is good and New York is good. That’s just good for the NHL. Frankly, the way LA plays now, they deserve it because they play harder than everyone else most nights.”

On if he’s surprised by how many guys from that group have gone into coaching and management (i.e. Warren Rychel, Gary Shuchuk, Rob Blake, Luc Robitaille, etc.):

“No, because guys that have to play hard, they know the game. If you’re just guy that has to use his mind and outwork other teams, you know where to be, because you can’t catch people. You can’t be in the wrong place or it ends up in your net. That’s why muckers and grinders, and fifth and sixth defenseman make good coaches. Stars very rarely make good coaches because so much of them is instinct. Gretz would do something on the ice, and I would bring him into the room and I would show him on the tape and say, ‘Gretz, why were you there? You shouldn’t have been there.’ He said, ‘Well, Barry, I just had this feeling. I saw the puck going out and saw this defenseman going there and saw this player going here, and I just thought the puck would go over here.’ How does Gretz teach that to a 20-ear-old defenseman from Moosejaw? That’s why big, slow defensemen like me and big, slow, forwards and number two goaltenders make good coaches. Because we have to know the game inside and out.”

On the absence of Slava Voynov this season:

“I didn’t think it would mean this much to the team, but obviously the guy means – and [Willie] Mitchell left too, so you actually lose two defensemen. I think what people forget [is] when you lose a defenseman, guys play different minutes, guys play against different lines. All of a sudden, a [D] four is a [D] two, a [D] five is a [D] three, and they’re playing against people they wouldn’t normally play against. Obviously Voynov matters, there’s no doubt about that.”

On if the NHL can make it in Las Vegas:

“You know what? A lot of smart people think they can. The NHL wants to be the first team in [the market]. Gary Bettman hasn’t been wrong in too many things he’s done. The NHL thinks they can – obviously it will take the right ownership – so, I wouldn’t bet against them.”

MORE MUST-READ MELROSE:

Barry Melrose Evaluates Players from his 1993 Kings Roster

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  1. […] part two with Melrose (available here), he talks about Slava Voynov, the NHL in Las Vegas, Bruce McNall, role players vs. skill, and […]