Doug Collins may not be the only well known analyst heading back to the coaching ranks.
Reports have Barry Melrose taking over the reigns of the Tampa Bay Lightning next season, ending an 11-year run as the lead hockey analyst on ESPN.
Melrose has denied the reports, saying “This is no different than any of the last 10 years … I’ve been contacted by a handful of clubs every year since joining ESPN.”
Should Melrose leave ESPN, the network would not have a single full-time hockey analyst on its roster. With the network dramatically increasing its coverage of the NHL this season — even bringing in CBC analyst Don Cherry for the Stanley Cup Finals — one imagines a replacement would be quickly sought out.
One possibility could be former ESPN analyst Bill Clement, who was unceremoniously dumped from NBC and Versus after two years as an NHL studio host. Or, though far less likely, ESPN could even work out a deal with the CBC to have Cherry do a weekly hockey segment on SportsCenter, much like Melrose currently does during the regular season.