NJ Devils promote from within, name John MacLean head coach

After mulling over a few other coaching options, the New Jersey Devils announced that they decided to hire from within and therefore promoted Lowell Devils coach John MacLean to the big club’s head job.

MacLean (not to be confused with Bruce Willis’ star-making “Die Hard” character John McClane) has been a fixture in the franchise for nearly 30 years. He was the Devils first choice in the 1983 draft, scored an overtime goal that sent to the team to the playoffs for the first time ever and holds various individual franchise records (including the all-time lead for goals and playoff points). The Devils forward also was an alternate captain when the team won its first Stanley Cup in 1995.

He was a Devils assistant coach from the 2002-03 season through 2008-09 campaign before taking over as the Lowell Devils head coach last season. MacLean ended up with a 39-31 record in his one year behind an AHL bench. Here’s how MacLean described his coaching style.

“I’m whatever is called for that day,” MacLean said last season when asked about his coaching style. “If it calls for teaching and being nice or if it calls for breaking a stick and yelling and screaming, then that’s what it calls for that day.”

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    Goalie nods: Backups battle as Kinkaid faces Enroth

    Los Angeles Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth, of Sweden, deflects a shot off the stick of a Colorado Avalanche player in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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    The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.

    In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.

    It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?

    Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.

    Elsewhere …

    Avalanche at Sabres: Semyon Varlamov vs. Robin Lehner

    Bruins at Red Wings: Possibly Tuukka Rask vs. Petr Mrazek

    Blues at Lightning: Best guess – Brian Elliott vs. Ben Bishop

    Flyers at Rangers: Steve Mason vs. (possibly) Henrik Lundqvist

    Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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    Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

    Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

    (Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

    Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

    It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

    Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

    The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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    Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

    A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

    Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

    (Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

    Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

    The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

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    Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

    Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

    Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

    Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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    “Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

    The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

    The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

    Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

    The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

    Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.