Live Free Or Die Hard, Devils? New Jersey Names John MacLean Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils are set to name John MacLean, long-time Devils assistant and current AHL bench boss, their new head coach. Die Hard references will reign supreme.

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Devils Set To Name John MacLean Head Coach

After six seasons as the New Jersey Devils assistant coach and one season as a head coach in the American Hockey League, John MacLean will get his shot at head coaching in the NHL. The team announced the news on their website on Thursday morning and they'll hold a press conference at 2 PM the same day.

With the hiring, our Devils blog, In Lou We Trust, doesn't see much changing in terms of the system in New Jersey.

If  anything, this statement would be most validated if the Devils promote John MacLean to New Jersey.  He's been a  player for New Jersey from 1984-85 through 1997-98.  After retirement, he moved onto being an assistant coach on the New Jersey since 2002 up until 2009, before being assigned as the head coach of Lowell.  MacLean knows "Devils hockey" better than any of the candidates. MacLean has been groomed as a head coach under the ways and means of "Devils hockey."  I don't think he would stray from what he's been a part of for so long of his career as a player and a coach if made head coach of the New Jersey Devils. 

For those who think he'll change how the Devils play so drastically, let me ask you this: Why would MacLean deviate from what he's been taught from management (Lou) and other head coaches (who bought into/preached the Devils philosophy) all along?

While things might not change too much on the ice, the Die Hard references are going to be excellent (and yes, we realize it's a different spelling).

Below, a few videos from MacLean as a player with the Devils in the 80s and 90s, as well as more recent clips from his head coaching days in Lowell. In the last clip, in fact, filmed prior to the 2009-10 season with Lowell, MacLean talks about his style and what the fans in Lowell should expect. It's a good primer on what fans of the big club should think.


Report: Devils Coaching Search Down To Short List Of Candidates

Lou Lamiorello didn't think it would be done by the NHL Draft, this coaching search thing. But it appears as though the New Jersey Devils general manager is beginning to narrow down his list for the head coaching position.

According to Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger, five candidates are still in the running: former Penguins head coach Michel Therrien, AHL Lowell's head coach John MacLean, current Blackhawks assistant New Jersey native Mike Haviland, Canadiens assistant Kirk Muller, and longtime NHL head coach Ken Hitchcock.

SB Nation's In Lou We Trust has a break down of each of these potential candidates.

Michel Therrien

Apparently, per this FanPost (and a lot of quick reaction online), William DePaoli of Inside Pittsburgh Sports has tweeted that Therrian may be the man for New Jersey. DePaoli's focus has been on Pittsburgh, so it's not unreasonable to think he has sources. That said, he's not going to be well-received as he was fired from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dan Bylsma in February 2009. That team went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, making it look like removing Therrien was a big factor in their success.

John MacLean

MacLean being promoted to head coach of the New Jersey Devils would be seen as "deserved move" by some. MacLean has been an assistant since the 2002-2003 season and was assigned to be the head coach of the Lowell Devils in the AHL last summer.  MacLean became the first head coach of the Devils' AHL affiliate to take the team to the playoffs since John Cunniff did it in the 1999-2000 season.  One can't say he hasn't paid his dues, so to speak.

On top of all of that, MacLean has been a Devils player from 1982 through 1998.  If anybody understands the organization from both perspectives, it's him.   The move to make him a head coach in Lowell was seen to be a test to see how he can command an entire team.  That he took the Lowell squad to a winning record and a postseason  berth has to be seen as a success. MacLean himself said it was useful, per this post by Rich Chere back in May.  He was part of the coaching staff in New Jersey, so most of the team should respect him as a coach.  Plus, he'd have more insight into some of the current Devils and how to handle them than an outside candidate.

Mike Haviland

Mike Haviland is probably a reason why there hasn't been much news about the head coaching search.  Haviland is currently an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks, who's currently fighting the good fight in the Stanley Cup Finals right now (Game 5 is tonight).   Of course, Lou is notoriously secretive about his process and that may be more of a reason.  Still, if Lou wants him, then he's got to wait a little bit.

On the surface, there's a lot to like about Haviland.  He was born in New Jersey and was drafted in the 1990 supplemental draft by New Jersey.  He got his start in coaching in pro hockey with the Trenton Titans of the East Coast Hockey League as an assistant.  After two seasons, he become the head coach of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, went to two Kelly Cup Finals and won one in three seasons before taking the Trenton Titans to the Kelly Cup glory in 2005.   Since then, Haviland jumped up to the AHL for three seasons before Chicago moved him up to an assistant.  In his entire minor-pro coaching career, 7 seasons, his teams always had winning records and made the playoffs.

Ken Hitchcock

The seemingly-abrasive Hitchcock has been around as a head coach since 1994-95. If the biggest factor in hiring a head coach is experience, then Hitchcock cannot be ignored. He's been behind the bench for over 1,000 games, the sixteenth ever head coach to hit that mark. Plus, he did win the Stanley Cup in 1999 with Dallas and was behind the bench in losing to the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000.

Kirk Muller

One name that may come up is former New Jersey Devil and current Montreal Canadiens assistant Kirk Muller. Muller has been with the Montreal organization for four seasons as an assistant, and he's been given more and more responsibilities on the team in this past season. Darren Eliot of SI had a good column highlighting why Muller is a "rising star" among coaches.

I'm a little worried that he'll get praise for Montreal's playoff performance which was largely of result of Jaroslav Halak playing at a ridiuclous level and some of their forwards shooting at totally unsustainable shooting percentages. In other words, parts of the team got hot and not necessarily the result of Muller, Jacques Martin, or anyone else.

For more on each candidate and for more on the Devils all year round, check out In Lou We Trust.


Devils Fans React To Retirement Of Jacques Lemaire

SBN's Devils blog, In Lou We Trust, recated to the news that head coach Jacques Lemaire has retired, with some additional thoughts on replacements that some Devils fans are already considering.

An excerpt:

Let me be the first to state that while the results speak for themselves, Lemaire's season as head coach wasn't all that bad.  The Devils did win the Atlantic Division, they did finish second in the Eastern Conference, and did so in defying many people's explanations.  The Devils didn't win games in 09-10 by sitting back in a 1-2-2 and relying on a counterattack for their offense. Lemaire was more than willing to play offensive lines moreso than Brent Sutter did, allow defensemen to pinch in on offense when necessary, and putting 4 and sometimes 5 forwards on a power play. The coaching style by Jacques Lemaire of 2009-10 was clearly not coaching like Lemaire did in 1994-95.

Get the whole read at ILWT.


Calling It Quits: Devils' Jacques Lemaire Retires From Coaching

New Jersey Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire has announced his retirement, four days after his team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year. He's stated that he doesn't have the energy to coach anymore, but he expects to remain with the team in a different capacity.

This was the only season of Lemaire's second stint as the Devils' coach. During the first stint, which lasted five seasons, he led the Devils to a Stanley Cup in 1995. General manager Lou Lamoriello now has a decision on his hands as to who will steer the ship of this struggling organization.

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