In a surprise decision, New Jersey Devils’ President, CEO, and General Manager Lou Lamoriello named former Devil John MacLean, the next head coach of the New Jersey Devils. The decision was made public via a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
John MacLean has been in the Devils system for years and even spent most of his time as a player in New Jersey. He was a Devil from 1983 to 1998 and currently holds the franchise record for most goals scored with 347. MacLean is also remembered for his overtime goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1988, which propelled the Devils into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
After last season, John MacLean was given the head coaching job the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate the Lowell Devils, to see how he would be as a head coach and to give him some head coaching experience. MacLean led Lowell to a 39-31-4-6 record and a playoff berth. Before coaching Lowell, he was an assistant coach for the Devils for seven years.
Last year when Brent Sutter stepped down, he said that he believed MacLean was ready to be a head coach and MacLean was one of the top candidates for the job. However, Lamoriello decided to try to bring back some past glory by bringing back Jacques Lemaire. Instead, he watched his team experience the same result they have experienced in the previous two seasons, which is a early exit in the first round of the playoffs.
The hiring of MacLean is a great decision by Lou, in my opinion. MacLean is a highly respected guy in the locker room and has done so much for the franchise. The opportunity is well-deserved, but now MacLean must prove himself and show everyone that he has what it takes to coach at the NHL level.
The New Jersey Devils are a very talented team, which everyone can see. However, once the playoffs roll around the team struggles and they get knocked out early. MacLean must bring a stop to this trend and allow for the Devils to be serious contenders for the cup. Just by moving past the first round, he will be more successful than the past two coaches.
MacLean must also try and push Lamoriello towards addressing the Devils needs this off-season. The Devils have had the same needs for the past two seasons now, which is to acquire a quality defenseman and a solid second line center.
The Devils defense has a lot of weaknesses and in order to have success it is going to need to be strengthened. Colin White is getting up there in age and so is Mike Mottau and Bryce Salvadore. Paul Martin is the only consistent one and Andy Greene is slowly emerging as a solid defenseman. However, to go deep into the playoffs they will need to surround them with a little more talent defensively.
Hopefully, he pushes the Devils towards a more offensive approach to the game as well. The Devils basically played the trap last year and the trap is a system I believe can no longer work in the new NHL. Teams can not sit back and just wait for teams to make a mistake because it allows the other team to dictate the game instead of them. The Devils have a great amount of talent offensively and I believe that it is time they use it. The addition of a solid second line center can only make the offense that much better.
MacLean has had the job for one day, but he is already doing good things. He named Larry Robinson as assistant coach. Larry Robinson was a assistant coach for the Devils for years and he was even head coach for a little while. Robinson was the man who led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson brings great experience with him and can even help MacLean do his job better.
The rest of the coaching staff is still to be announced, but according to the New Jersey Devils official website Chris Terrari will remain goaltending coach and Scott Stevens and Tommy Albelin are going ot be reassigned within the organization.
In the press conference held yesterday, MacLean said that he was looking forward to the opportunity and was excited looking forward to being the head coach of the New Jersey Devils.
“For me, it’s almost like Draft Day again. I’ll be a rookie head coach. The organization’s been very good to me. I’ve been through a lot with it, and I’m looking forward to being able to help it along in the head coaching capacity, and get us back to winning another Stanley Cup.” said MacLean.
Myself and Devils fans everywhere are excited for this too. MacLean has been around long enough to see what style of coaching works and what does not. He deserves this shot and hopefully it works out for him and the rest of the team.
We can all hope that he can return to the Devils to their old form of being a team that gets it done not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs as well.