June 24, 2008 / 4:01 PM / 11 years ago

Tampa Bay Lightning hire Melrose as coach

Newly announced head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning Barry Melrose speaks at a news conference in Tampa, Florida, June 24, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Carlson

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Barry Melrose, who last coached in the National Hockey League (NHL) 13 years ago, was named as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday by the team’s new owners.

Melrose replaces John Tortorella, who was fired on June 3 after the Lightning finished last in the 30-team NHL.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” Melrose, 51, said at a news conference.

Melrose coached the Los Angeles Kings from 1992 to 1995 and since then has been an analyst for ESPN. He took the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993, where they lost to Montreal.

Melrose said he was returning to coaching because he wanted the challenge of competition again. He said the Lightning would play hard and aggressively.

“They’re going to work their butts off,” he said of his players.

Last week, the NHL approved the sale of the Lightning to an ownership group headed by Hollywood producer Oren Koules and Canadian developer Len Barrie, a former NHL player.

Tortorella was the Tampa Bay coach for seven years and led the team to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

Editing by Clare Fallon

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