"Steven is not ready for the NHL," Melrose stated on the Fan 590. "Steven is going to be a good player...right now he's just not strong enough physically to play against defencemen who are 6'3" or 6'4" that can skate as good as him."
-- Barry Melrose
You are an 18 year old hot prospect that is thrust into a team that is making a volatile transition of it's roster, from speed and an offense-driven-defensive system to... well, to Fantasy Hockey. You're paired up with big names and you're listed as a big addition to a club that is in transition and changing chemistry.
Do you thrive under that as you learn the NHL game? Do you reach the high expectations?
Lemme throw you another what-if: What if ownership hadn't changed? If Palace Sports were still calling the shots, if Jay Feaster were still in the front office (or Bill Barber for that matter, or someone else picked out by Ron Campbell or Tom Wilson) and John Tortorella was still behind the bench... What if that Lightning franchise drafted Stamkos #1 overall? Where would Steve be playing right now?
Odds are, back in the CHL for another year of maturing.
That is not pissing on Steven Stamkos or his game. This is not an attempt to undermine the kid or his future. The point is that, in a different scenario or situation, Steven would not be in the NHL this season or not pressed in the way he has been. Of course, in the aforementioned scenario, this would be a very different Lightning team.
As for the rest of Melrose comments (and Len Barrie's retorts) -- I'm just going to take the high road and dismiss this pissing match. Barrie has a track record of mouthing off and bad blood is being spread from somewhere in this organization... Tortorella, Dan Boyle and now Barry Melrose have expressed displeasure with their departures from the club. This is a very different atmosphere than what this fan is used to - where a transaction for the club did not generate such hostility.
Yes, bad blood and hurt feelings happens in sports or the business world when there is an abrupt change, but this is a grand departure from a classy face the Lightning used to operate under.
As for the rest of the Lightning roster... Maybe this is all playing out in order to light a fire under the players? A fictional drama? One can dream, right?