Barry Melrose is a storyteller and his playing days in the Detroit Red Wings organization is the source of many of his tales. He played with the Red Wings and their minor-league affiliate in Glens Falls, N.Y for the last four seasons of his career from 1983-87.
Colorful player Melrose was the veteran who helped Gerard Gallant learn how to be a valuable player.
“I love his sense of humor,” Melrose told ESPN about Gallant. “Great coaches have a good sense of humor because you need it sometimes. While we played together, Gerry was always a joke-cracker. (He) regularly came up with nicknames for teammates, broadcasters, and others who regularly worked with the team.”
Melrose liked his experience with the Red Wings so much that he settled in Glens Falls, N.Y. after he retired as a player. He coached the Adirondack Red Wings in the AHL before coaching in the NHL. After the Adirondack Red Wings disbanded, a United Hockey League team was formed in the city. Melrose and ESPN buddy Steve Levy bought the team and named it the “Frostbite.”
Today, Melrose is the source of the storytelling. He announced that he is leaving his job as a hockey analyst for ESPN because he is battling Parkinson’s Disease.
“I’ve had over 50 extraordinary years playing, coaching and analyzing the world’s greatest game, hockey. It’s now time to hang up my skates and focus on my health, my family, including my supportive wife Cindy, and whatever comes next,” the 67-year-old said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m beyond grateful for my hockey career, and to have called ESPN home for almost 30 years. Thanks for the incredible memories and I’ll now be cheering for you from the stands.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com: “Barry is a unique, one-of-a-kind person. And hockey on ESPN won’t be the same without him.
“For nearly 50 years, as a player, coach and broadcaster, Barry‘s gigantic personality and trademark style have made our game bigger, more exciting and more entertaining. His love for hockey is obvious and infectious. And it is impossible to have a conversation with him without a smile on your face. Barry, we wish you well in this fight and know you will give it everything you have — as you always do.”
The news of Melrose’s departure was revealed by broadcast partner, John Buccigross, via social media, “I’ve worked with Barry at ESPN for over a quarter century. Cold beers and hearty laughs in smokey cigar bars. A razor-sharp wit, he was always early & looked like a million bucks. I love him. I’ll miss him…”