MacLean tries to bring stability as coach

Thursday, 08.19.2010 / 1:24 PM ET / Features
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MacLean tries to bring stability as coach
John MacLean might never have to buy a drink or a dinner again in New Jersey for what he accomplished on the evening of April 3, 1988. For any Devils fan, it's the first thing that comes to mind when MacLean's name is mentioned. His dramatic overtime goal in the regular-season finale at Chicago clinched the first playoff berth in team history and gave the organization its first sense of credibility. Since then, New Jersey has qualified for the postseason in 20 of 22 seasons and won three Stanley Cup titles.

MacLean's task now is to restore credibility behind the bench upon being named the 19th coach in team history on Thursday. MacLean, whose name is dotted all over the Devils' record book, becomes the first man to play for and coach the team.

He entered the organization on June 8, 1983, as the No. 6 pick in the Entry Draft, held at the Montreal Forum. That pick came from St. Louis via a trade that sent veteran defenseman Rob Ramage to the Blues one year earlier. MacLean, a right wing from Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League, was coming off a 47-goal, 98-point season in which he was named a Memorial Cup First Team All-Star. He was ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Draft by NHL Central Scouting.

MacLean, a month shy of his 19th birthday, earned a roster spot in his first NHL training camp and made his NHL debut in the season-opening game on Oct. 5, 1983, a 6-2 Devils loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. He didn't contribute offensively in that contest, but MacLean hit the scoresheet in his third game, a 6-3 victory at Detroit on Oct. 8. It would turn out to be the only goal and point of MacLean's 23-game rookie season, as he was returned to Oshawa for more seasoning and also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships – scoring 7 goals in seven games.

Devils coaching history
Bill MacMillan 1982-83 through Nov. 22, 1983
Tom McVie Nov. 22, 1983 - May 31, 1984
Doug Carpenter May 31, 1984 - Jan. 26, 1988
Jim Schoenfeld Jan. 26, 1988 - Nov. 6, 1989
John Cunniff Nov. 6, 1989 - March 4, 1991
Tom McVie March 4, 1991 - June 5, 1992
Herb Brooks June 5, 1992 - May 31, 1993
Jacques Lemaire June 28, 1993 - May 8, 1998
Robbie Ftorek May 21, 1998 - March 23, 2000
Larry Robinson March 23, 2000 - Jan. 28, 2002
Kevin Constantine Jan. 28, 2002 - June 13, 2002
Pat Burns June 13, 2002 - July 8, 2005
Larry Robinson July 14, 2005 - Dec. 19, 2005
Lou Lamoriello Dec. 19, 2005 - May 14, 2006
Claude Julien June 13, 2006 - April 2, 2007
Lou Lamoriello April 2, 2007 - May 5, 2007
Brent Sutter July 13, 2007 - June 6, 2009
Jacques Lemaire July 13, 2009 - April 26, 2010
The book on MacLean, a 6-footer who played at about 200 pounds, was he was a tenacious, hard-working player with above-average scoring ability. Though never considered a superstar, MacLean was always one of New Jersey's top scorers and a fan favorite, the type of player you could truly only appreciate after watching him night in and night out.

Ten times he scored at least 20 goals for New Jersey, including three straight 40-goal seasons from 1988-89 through 1990-91 that included his only two appearances in the NHL All-Star Game. MacLean scored a career-high and team-leading 87 points in 1988-89, and also paced the Devils with 78 points in 1990-91. Eight times he placed in the top three in New Jersey scoring for a season.

In MacLean's seventh season, he began his assault on the franchise record book. He became New Jersey's all-time goal scoring leader with his 171st on March 22, 1990, passing Pat Verbeek. The following season MacLean became the first Devil to reach 200 career goals.

MacLean was robbed of one season in his prime when he missed all of 1991-92 with a torn ACL in his right knee, suffered in a preseason game. The break offered his first taste of assistant coaching, though in an unofficial capacity. He rebounded to score 24 goals and 48 points in 1992-93 and was New Jersey's Masterton Trophy candidate for completing a successful comeback. On Dec. 28, 1993, MacLean passed former teammate Kirk Muller as the all-time franchise point leader with his 521st in a game against Hartford.

MacLean reached the pinnacle of his career on June 24, 1995, when he lifted the Stanley Cup on home ice following a sweep of Detroit in the Final. He was the Devils' second-leading scorer in the series with 5 points.

In 1997-98, MacLean was 33 and in the final year of his contract. Unhappy with progress toward a new deal, he publicly demanded a trade that materialized on Dec. 7, 1997. MacLean and Ken Sutton were sent to San Jose in exchange for Doug Bodger and Dody Wood. He left the Garden State with 347 goals and 701 points in 934 games.

MacLean scored 13 goals and 32 points in 51 games with the Sharks.

In a moment Devils fans would rather forget, MacLean, a free agent for the first time in his career, signed with the cross-river rival Rangers on July 9, 1998. It was with New York that MacLean appeared in his NHL milestone 1,000th game on Nov. 11, 1998, and scored his 400th career goal on Jan. 20, 2000. His best season with the Rangers was 1998-99 – he had 28 goals and 55 points in 82 games.

MacLean experienced his second trade on Feb. 5, 2001, when he was dealt by the Rangers to Dallas for future considerations. In parts of two seasons with the Stars, he scored 7 goals and 12 points in 48 games.

Maclean retired as an active player on June 7, 2002 following 19-year NHL career, scoring 413 goals and 842 points in 1,194 regular-season games. MacLean is the New Jersey team leader in career goals and is second in points and fourth in games.

Contact Rocky Bonanno at rbonanno@nhl.com

Author: Rocky Bonanno | NHL.com Staff Writer