MacLean introduced as new head coach
|The Devils' new head coach, John MacLean.|
“I’m very excited,” MacLean said. “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.”
MacLean, 45, becomes the 19th head coach in team history, replacing Jacques Lemaire, who retired at the end of last season. MacLean served last year as the head coach in Lowell (AHL), guiding New Jersey’s top minor league affiliate to its best ever record (39-31-4-6) and a berth in the Calder Cup playoffs.
It's the first NHL head coaching job for MacLean, who was a Devils assistant for seven seasons beginning with the 2003 run to the Stanley Cup. Devils' President, CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello felt the time was right to tap MacLean as bench boss.
“John has an overall view of our whole organization,” Lamoriello said. “John knows all about our veterans, he’s been here. He knows our primary development players, who are the next step. Just as important, our prospects, because for the last two summers, we’ve had our prospect camp and John has been here. With the way the new hockey is today, you will definitely see a lot of young players in lineups. You’ll see it here next year.
“Our first priority this year was to sign all these young players. There’s none that John hasn’t seen firsthand on the ice, so he’s got a tremendous overview, and a very objective viewpoint. There are a lot of reasons I felt he was ready, not only from the experience of this past year and previous years, but also his knowledge of our talent.”
MacLean said the year in Lowell was an important step in preparing him for coaching at the next level.
Originally drafted sixth overall by New Jersey in 1983, MacLean still tops the franchise’s all-time goals list with 347. He scored the overtime goal in the 1988 regular-season finale that clinched the Devils’ first playoff berth, and was a key part of their first Stanley Cup championship in 1995. The native of Oshawa, Ontario, is second (701) to Patrik Elias (754) on the Devils' all-time points list.
MacLean's 19-year playing career included 14 as a Devil. He was traded with Ken Sutton to San Jose for Doug Bodger and Dody Wood on Dec. 7, 1997, and finished with stops with the Rangers and Dallas Stars. He retired as an active player on June 7, 2002, and ended up with 413 goals, 429 assists and 842 points in 1,194 games.
He inherits a Devils squad that has won four Atlantic Division titles in the last five seasons, but has struggled of late in the postseason with three straight first-round exits. New Jersey finished 48-27-7 last year and claimed the division crown before bowing out in five games to Philadelphia.
"All I want is the opportunity," MacLean said. "It's up to me to make the most of the opportunity. It was no different when I was a player. I'm confident that I can accomplish the goals set out here, I'm confident that I'm going to be a good coach. I'm looking forward to the opportunity,no hesitation whatsoever."
The Devils legend is also up for facing a new set of challenges.
“There’s going to be a lot,” he said. “As a rookie, I’m in a learning process. I had a great experience last year in Lowell being a head coach and making decisions. For me, I’m not going to complicate a whole lot of things. I think, if we can get back to playing Devils hockey, and to me, something that even when I broke in as a player and being here as a coach, we were a hard-working team, night in, night out. Just get back to the basics of that, incorporate a few things here and there, and I think we’ll be successful team.”
MacLean named Larry Robinson as one of this assistant coaches, but did not offer a timetable for announcing the rest of his staff. Robinson coached the Devils to the 2000 Stanley Cup and had been serving as a Devils' special assignment coach.
“Larry’s going to come on with his experience, both being a coach, a defenseman. His knowledge of the game, I think it’ll be a great asset for me and the players,” MacLean said.
Chris Terreri will stay on as goaltending coach. Last year’s assistants Tommy Albelin and Scott Stevens will have new roles within the organization.
MacLean complimented Jamie Langenbrunner’s leadership and said he will remain the team’s captain. Langenbrunner became the eighth captain in club history on Dec. 5, 2007.
"I think Jamie's a great leader," MacLean said. "I actually played with him briefly [in Dallas], and having coached him, I think he's good and he's good for what we're going to try and do here in the future."
The new coach has a simple plan for the Devils’ style of play next season.
“Winning,” he said. “Hopefully, winning. The only thing I asked my players last year was that they come each night and compete to the best of their abilities, if they work hard – and one thing I never had any complaints with my players last year for the majority of the games was they gave me a solid effort every night. If they give us a solid effort every night, we’ll be fine. As far as saying we’re going to be an uptempo team, we’re going to be this, we’re going to be that, we’re going to be a good, sound hockey club and we’re going to play at a high level, high intensity. The bottom line is, we’re going to work and be prepared, night in, night out.”
He believes the team’s success next season will come down to work ethic.
“For me, something that’s always been for this organization when we weren’t very good, we always worked hard,” MacLean said. “If we can establish that night in, night out, and compete to the highest level with the talent level that we do have here, I think we’ll be a successful team.”