Over the course of three seasons, from 1980-83, the cash-rich but idea-poor Stepien set the standard for sports mismanagement. Fancying himself a progressive thinker, he fiddled with the Cavs until they were reduced to ashes. Stepien overestimated his ability to judge talent, leading to a series of brutal trades. His willingness to jettison draft picks eventually forced the league to institute a rule preventing the trading of consecutive first- rounders. His legacy was a team that set an NBA-record 24-game losing streak, that averaged less than 4,000 fans a night and that, amazingly, went through four coaches in a single season.
When he eventually sold the Cavs to the Gund brothers -- who at times owned the NHL's Seals, North Stars and Sharks -- the NBA had to toss in some compensatory first-rounders just to create some impression of value.
The situation in Tampa Bay under the guidance of co-owners
Granted, their reign hasn't been a total folly. The decision of hockey's two-headed Stepien to dismiss
But hiring their buddy Melrose?
It's still hard to believe anyone thought this was a good idea in the first place. After 15 solid years spent in broadcasting, Melrose's failure was easy to predict. In fact,
But let's be honest. If you're out of the game for 15 years, as was Melrose, you're coming in at a distinct disadvantage. Doesn't matter if we're talking accounting or beer-making or automotive repair or hockey. The times change, and without being actively involved, it's tough to catch up. Especially in just 15 games.
Of course, Melrose may never have had a chance. After all, he was hardly put in charge of a team, was he? More like a collection of parts imported willy-nilly by the free-spending duo, apparently inspired by the construction of Mr. Burns' softball team. And these weren't just any parts, either. They were expired parts, like
You have to feel bad for that kid. Maybe he had outgrown the OHL, but the decision to make him a centerpiece of their offense, and marketing campaign, was made by the proto-Stepiens before Stamkos had even attended his first NHL training camp. They painted themselves, and Melrose, into a corner.
And then there were rumors of trouble from the start, stories of Barrie coming into the room to diagram plays, and rumblings that there were players who never took Melrose seriously, who saw him as "just a TV guy."
There probably are some out there who'll want to give Koules and Barrie and new GM
Might already be too late for that. The decision to name
Who knows though, right? The Lightning brass might just have stumbled on their own version of
Either way, good luck to Tocchet. But my advice to him: rent, don't buy.