Earlier today, Brandon posted about how there’s some seemingly logical scuttlebutt about how Ken Hitchcock makes sense as the successor to Jacques Lemaire in New Jersey as head coach. The comparisons are easy to make as Hitchcock’s defense-oriented system mimics that of what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in New Jersey the last 15 years or so.
Larry Brooks, while not antagonizing John Tortorella, took some time out to make the case for former Devils player John MacLean.
Lamoriello should reach into another winning organization for the Devils’ next head coach.
And that would be his own.
For the timing is right and the time is now to promote John MacLean, who guided the AHL Lowell Devils to the playoffs in his first year running the show behind the bench after seven seasons as an assistant in New Jersey.
In strangely impassioned words, Brooks makes a nice speech for MacLean lauding him as one of the greatest forwards in Devils history (along with Patrik Elias). Luckily for Lamoriello, there’s already precedent for success in making a move that’s bold like this. If you take a look at what Joe Sacco did in Denver after being a coach in the AHL for only a short tenure and leading an Avalanche team that everyone expected to be awful into the playoffs this year.
Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger compiled a short list of coaches to look at who also might be a good fit with the Devils outside of MacLean. Aside from Hitchcock and MacLean, Chere mentions Scott Stevens as a possibility and he could be the scariest head coach in the league. After all, would you cross Scott Stevens when he gives out an order? No way. I’d also be terrified to be on the ice with him at practice.
The other names are yawn-inducing and beyond questionable: Former Habs head coach Mario Tremblay and former Devils head coaches Larry Robinson and Robbie Ftorek. If other re-tread coaches are your thing, the name Michel Therrien has been halfheartedly thrown around as a dark horse possibility and given what Dan Bylsma has done in Pittsburgh, you could say that Therrien was more of a road block to success than a builder of it.
Of course, given the amount of burgeoning offensive talent on the Devils, one has to wonder if looking for a coach to plug in and continue playing the same system is the right move. After all, it wasn’t defense and goaltending that lead to the downfall of the Devils this year.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had their share of good news lately. They’ve won five in a row and goalie Steve Mason has been solid in that span, being named on Monday the NHL’s first star for the week.
But it hasn’t all been positive.
Forward Matt Read is out of the lineup for at least four weeks with an upper-body injury, the Flyers announced Monday. The injury occurred during Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators.
It’s been reported the injury is an oblique muscle pull.
With Read out, the Flyers have recalled Taylor Leier from the American Hockey League.
Leier has been very productive in the minors. In 22 games this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he has six goals and 20 points.
The topic of a possible Wild Card play-in game being added to the NHL’s playoff format isn’t new.
General managers around the league have talked about it before. The idea recently seemed to gain traction with at least the small majority, too.
Hockey insider Bob McKenzie once polled all 30 GMs to get a sense of how many would be in favor of such a thing — and 16 of those GMs were. You can count Ken Holland with the Detroit Red Wings as someone who would like to see a Wild Card play-in game.
Holland is also a baseball fan and likes the way MLB has created must-watch play-in games. In baseball, there are three division winners in each league. Those three teams qualify for the division round of the postseason. Two wild-card teams in each league square off in a one-game play-in to decide the fourth divisional qualifier on each side.
“I’m all for an extra team in each conference qualifying for the playoffs and having a wild- card play-in game,” said Holland. “It would add excitement down the stretch for many more teams fighting for the additional wild-card spot and two extra teams would be involved in the playoffs. Those play-in games would be dramatic.”
Of course, the interesting thing about that is the Red Wings have a streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances on the line.
But their best days — when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg led them to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the final the following year — are long behind them. The organization has undergone substantial change with Zetterberg getting older, the loss of Datsyuk to the KHL and Mike Babcock joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings could be in real danger of missing the post-season under its current format in 2017.
Detroit is two points out of the second Wild Card spot in the East, with New Jersey and Boston still ahead of them, although not currently in a playoff spot.
Three forwards — Brock Boeser, Alex DeBrincat, and Colin White — and two defensemen — Chad Krys and Charlie McAvoy — make up the five returnees that were named today to the preliminary roster for the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team.
Other recognizable names include first-round draft picks Luke Kunin, Clayton Keller, Logan Brown, Kieffer Bellows, Jack Roslovic, and Tage Thompson.
“This is a talented, versatile group of players that has found success across all levels of hockey,” said general manager Jim Johannson from USA Hockey. “There is depth at every position, and while we still have some difficult decisions to make, we feel each of these players can fit the style of hockey Coach Motzko (U.S. head coach Bob Motzko) first implemented at our National Junior Evaluation Camp last August.”
Click here for the full preliminary roster. D-man Jack Ahcan (St. Cloud State) and goalie Jake Oettinger (BU) are the only ones who have yet to be drafted. Oettinger doesn’t turn 18 until later this month.
The players will attend training camp Dec. 16-20 in Buffalo, then an additional camp in Oshawa, Ontario, from Dec. 20-24.
Of the 27 camp invitees (three goalies, eight d-men, and 16 forwards), only 23 will make the cut.
USA won bronze at the 2016 World Juniors in Finland.
Related: Barzal, Strome, Patrick among invitees to Canada’s World Juniors camp
The update on the injury Alex Galchenyuk suffered during Montreal’s win in L.A. on Sunday wasn’t definitive, but it was ominous.
From the Habs:
Galchenyuk suffered a lower body injury on December 4 in Los Angeles. He went for medical testing in St. Louis earlier Monday, and will be out indefinitely.
He will be further evaluated by team doctors in Montreal on Wednesday. An update will be released later this week.
The injury occurred in the third period of Sunday’s game, when he collided with Kings center Anze Kopitar.
Galchenyuk, 22, leads the Canadiens with nine goals and 23 points in 25 games this year and is one of the club’s top faceoff men, at least in terms of draws taken. He also averages over 16 minutes per night and features prominently on the power play.
So, needless to say, this is a potentially massive loss for Montreal.
The Habs will wrap their three-game road swing in St. Louis tomorrow, and are then back in action Thursday, when they host the Devils.
If Galchenyuk is out for a significant length of time, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Martin Hanzal-to-Montreal trade rumblings start up again.