MacLean believes his way will lead to more success

Wednesday, 09.1.2010 / 12:47 PM ET / Features
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MacLean believes his way will lead to more success
MacLean was introduced as head coach on June 17.
New Jersey Devils coach John MacLean knows a thing or two about the finer points of generating offense.

MacLean showcased that creativity for 14 seasons in New Jersey on the way to becoming the team's all-time leading scorer with 347 goals. He'd ultimately finish with 413 career goals over 18 seasons before retiring in 2002.

Now, after serving as an assistant coach for the Devils for seven seasons and leading the club's AHL affiliate in Lowell to its only playoff appearance in four seasons as head coach last season, MacLean is hoping his offensive influence can help snap those playoff doldrums in New Jersey.

"I feel I have a good vision for the game, an understanding of the players, and just kind of an overall feel of both on-ice and off-ice situations, so I'm confident to get the season started," MacLean told NHL.com. "The key for me (in Lowell) was keeping things simple by getting the team to play within a framework of a certain structure and then letting their talent take over."

It's an approach MacLean likely will utilize as a rookie head coach.

"Every coach I've played for and worked with I watched and took some things, so I was always taking something from each person," MacLean said. "But you still have to put it into your own personality. I'm not going to coach like somebody else; I'm going to coach my way and I'll continue to learn along the way."

The Devils have experienced plenty of regular-season success, winning their ninth Atlantic Division title while reaching the 100-point mark for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons in 2009-10. While that's all well and good, MacLean has established one goal.

"To win the Stanley Cup -- that's the way it's been here for years," he said.

MacLean, who was a key part of the Devils' first Stanley Cup championship in 1995, when he scored 18 points in 20 postseason games and was an assistant coach during the team's 2003 Cup run, feels last season the team may have gotten away from the style of play that made it so successful.

"I was here for a few of those years and I wasn't here last year," he said. "Not to disparage anybody that was here or was doing anything, but I think there's a certain way that this team plays and a certain way that this team and this organization does things, and I think if everybody wants to be a part of it and do those things, I think we can be successful."

A three-time 40-goal scorer, MacLean still holds the Devils' all-time goals mark (347).
MacLean admits losing in the opening round of the playoffs, as the Devils have done for three-straight seasons, is unacceptable. Without putting much thought into it, he provided a solution.

"Teams going deep into the playoffs play more of a sacrifice role," he said. "You have to sacrifice to get far in the playoffs, and I mean everybody, from one through 23. You have to make the commitment and the sacrifice to go far in the postseason."

MacLean knows what it takes to win a championship in New Jersey as a player and an assistant coach, but he also knows what he can add to that formula in attempt to be even better.

"As far as saying we're going to be an up-tempo 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," he said. "The bottom line is, we're going to work and be prepared every night."

Devils forward Patrik Elias, who ranks second behind MacLean with 314 career goals in 14 seasons -- two of which he and MacLean were teammates -- knows the new coach will have a positive influence on veterans and younger players.

"He's been around, obviously, for many years with different coaches, and the good is he knows all of us," Elias said. "He knows what he can get from us, what we're all about, personalities on the ice, off the ice. We know what he's like."

MacLean, the sixth different coach in the last six seasons, led Lowell to a franchise-best 39-31-4-6 mark in 2009-10. Not bad for his first season as a head coach at any level.

"I knew there would be a lot of things that I'd have to deal with," MacLean said. "You can't speculate on what you'll have to deal with; you just have to react to it. I had a pretty open and honest policy with the players. I enjoyed it a lot when I was there just getting them to buy into working hard and being respectful."

Don't think for a second MacLean won't insert a young prospect into his lineup, either, particularly if that player exhibits the heart and determination he craves.

"I can't pinpoint one young guy who might make our roster (out of training camp), but I can tell you that having coached younger guys, I'm not afraid to play young guys, so whoever shows up and contributes will definitely get an opportunity," he said. "One of the things I learned last year was that there are some young guys you have to be more patient with than others, but you also have to give them the opportunity. I will be giving them an opportunity to play in the NHL."

As far as the look of his team, MacLean said Elias likely would assume his natural position at left wing, and prospect Matthew Corrente, who dabbled at wing and defense last season, would compete for a job on defense since "that's where he played (for MacLean) in Lowell."

MacLean also made it very clear he wouldn't lose any sleep over whether or not goalie Martin Brodeur needs rest.

"I know how lucky I am as a rookie head coach to come into the NHL with, arguably, the best goalie to have ever played the game," MacLean said. "I'm excited to have Marty as my goalie. We'll play him as much as we need to and rest him as much as we need."

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale