It is quite the story when you think about it. Twenty Two years ago, John MacLean scored the an OT goal that sent the Devils to the playoffs for the first time. Back then, MacLean was the guy the Devils leaned on for success and now, after 6 years of playoff disappointments, the Devils are asking MacLean to lead this team again.
MacLean spent seven seasons as a Devils assistant coach but was passed over during Lou Lamoriello’s past two head coaching searches in favor of Brent Sutter and Jacques Lemaire. He earned it this time by serving as head coach for the Devils’ AHL minor-league team last season. He’ll have help from Larry Robinson, who will return as an assistant coach and act as MacLean’s right-hand man on the bench. Chris Terreri will be back as goalie coach, but the search is on for a second assistant coach as neither Tommy Albelin nor Mario Tremblay will be back in that capacity.
I’m very satisfied that MacLean finally ended up where we all thought he should be. I am a little less enthusiastic that Larry Robinson will be back behind the bench with him. Don’t get me wrong, Larry is a great hockey mind and has a certain way with the players but his last few stints with the Devils have been less than thrilling in my opinion.
MacLean has a tough job in front of him. The Devils defense is in decline and certainly needs to be revamped. The aggressive offense that Brent Sutter spent time building took a huge step backwards last season and will need to be restored under MacLean’s watch. That’s not to say that the offense was terrible last season because it wasn’t but they certainly had a more “kill” attitude under Sutter.
Has MacLean already made his first mistake? He believes in Jamie Langenbrunner as Captain, something I am not completely sold on. I personally feel that a Captain should live on the Blue Line but being that the Devils lack that type of Blue Liner, the next obvious choice for me is for Zack Parise to be leading this team, something he already does on the ice.
With Lemaire retiring and the Devils having a number of Free Agents this summer, there were A LOT of questions facing this team in the offseason. Hiring MacLean was the right move, the only move in my opinion and now we will wait to see what Lou has for us on July 1st. Start the countdown, it will be here before you know it.