Author: NBC Sports

Is John MacLean the right coach for the Devils?

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MacLean.jpgThe Devils took a route most expected was coming, promoting John
MacLean from coach of the Lowell (Albany) Devils to be the next head
coach in New Jersey. MacLean is young and should have a new approach
that will do the team good, after a number of years of coming up
disappointingly short in the postseason.

Fischer of In Lou We Trust
, as he always does, as a very lengthy
breakdown of the hiring as he goes over various pros and cons of John
MacLean being named the next coach of the Devils. Fischer is lukewarm on
the hiring, as he’s worried the move was made perhaps more out of
loyalty to arguably the greatest Devils player in franchise history
after he had just one season under his best of coaching at the
professional level. Says John, speaking of one of his “cons” of the

When things go south for some period of time
for this team – and it will
happen at some point – what will MacLean fall back on?  When a player
comes to him with an issue, will MacLean have the acumen to handle the
issue well for both sides?   These are questions I’m sure were raised,
but his inexperience doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence at this
juncture.  MacLean has been a head coach for Lowell last season and that
was his only season of being a head coach in pro hockey.    He’s still
relatively new and still learning.  Fortunately, the promotion of
Robinson, who has been a head coach for several years in LA and NJ, to
be an assistant can help and teach MacLean further.

initial reaction by Fischer is one of cautious optimism, especially in
light of the news that MacLean isn’t expected to make sweeping changes
on the team and that the one issue that might have been at the heart of
the matter — Lou Lamoriello — is still in charge and likely picked a
coach he’s certain will be a company man.

Fischer also
acknowledges that hiring MacLean from within the organization could be a
good thing, as the three previous hires were from outside the Devils’
organization. MacLean is familiar with the players and the system, and
there shouldn’t be much — if any — of a rough transition from Lemaire
to MacLean. In fact, even if MacLean doesn’t change much overall, you
would hope that the team and the players will respond to a coach like
MacLean much more favorably.

He might not be making sweeping
changes, but it’s not as if the Devils need complete rebuilding. What
needs to be done is for the coach to find a way for the players to
believe in what they are trying to do on the ice, something that wasn’t
in place last season. MacLean may be young and relatively new, but
Lamoriello is confident in him as a coach.

Too confident? Well, he
didn’t seem to be looking elsewhere for a coach and didn’t go on a
long, drawn out search for coaches. MacLean was his first choice and
that’s who will be behind the bench next season in New Jersey.

Zach Parise looking for more offense under John MacLean

Parise.jpgLast season was one to forget for the New Jersey Devils, after a
blockbuster trade for Ilya Kovalchuk never panned out and the team’s
star players clashed with the coach and the playing system. While we’ll
never know exactly what happened between Jamie Langenbrunner and Jacques
Lemaire, there’s no doubt that the team’s early demise in the playoffs
were due in part to an outdated defensive system.

Zach Parise, for
one, hopes that changes with new coach John MacLean.
From Rich Chere of The Star Ledger:

“He’s younger so hopefully he’ll bring some new ideas and some
changes. Because we need it.”

MacLean, 45, spoke of getting back to Devils hockey. I asked Parise
what he thought that might be.

“Who knows? I sure hope he brings more offense, more of an aggressive
style,” he said. “I hope we play a more aggressive, puck-possession
style. You look at the teams in the (Stanley Cup) finals and that’s the
way winning teams play. They’re a lot more aggressive.”

With the scoring talent the Devils have, it’s hard to picture another
season where the team just sits back in the same defensive system
they’ve been using for so long. While this style of play has certainly
led to some continued success over the years, it’s been a long time
since the Devils made any noise in the postseason.

The Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers both proved this
year that teams can be solid defensively and yet still play an uptempo
and aggressive offensive system. The question is whether GM Lou
Lamoriello will give MacLean the go ahead to instill whatever system he
feels is best.

Rumor: Boston to trade Wheeler, Savard to Columbus for 4th overall pick


Wheeler.jpgI’d like to preface this post with a quick disclaimer: right now,
this can only be classified as a rumor, although one that certainly
seems to have legs. Proceed with caution.

Pro Hockey Talk has
learned of a possible trade in the works, with the Boston Bruins dealing
Blake Wheeler and Marc Savard to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange
for the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. It’s likely
that the Bruins would also include their 15th overall pick in the deal
as well, leaving Boston with both the second and fourth pick in the
first round.

Talking to another source, PHT was told that the Blue
Jackets are interested in trading away their pick, although as of now
there is nothing concrete in the works as far as a trade goes.
Considering how reliable our source is for the information regarding
this trade proposal, it seems as though there is certainly something
substantial in the works although there is no guarantee this is going
down. It’s also important to note that Boston including that 15th pick isn’t certain, although you wonder if Wheeler and Savard alone are worth the 4th. So you’d think something else would have to come back Boston’s way, although I doubt they’re looking to take on much salary in this trade.

Here is where things get dicey however, if this is in fact the proposed trade. Marc Savard has a full no-trade clause that he would have to waive and Blake Wheeler isn’t under contract for next season — he’s to become a restricted free agent after making $2.8 million last season. Savard would have had to agree to be traded to Columbus, something I haven’t even caught wind of being a possibility. While it’s certainly possibly, that right now is the big sticking point in this deal.

Columbus is also hoping to acquire top line center this summer (hence the rumors about a possible Spezza trade) and while Savard has decent numbers throughout his career I’m not certain he’s the level of center the Blue Jackets are hoping for on the first line. That being said, he would still help fill a void on the Blue Jackets roster and allow them some flexibility to not have to give up a ransom this summer to make either make a trade for center or overpay in free agency.

For Boston, this is a trade that works in freeing up cap space while also giving themselves the ability to instantly infuse the franchise with two outstanding and talented young players, one of which will certainly make an immediate impact. The cap space is important, especially if the Bruins are looking to make a big splash in free agency — Patrick Marleau, anyone?

So, at first glance this trade proposal leaves you shaking your head a bit but it makes sense if you start to break it down. I also think that the Bruins would be giving up a ton for that 4th pick, but if they use that cap space to make a big free agency signing it will all even out.

Once again, at this point this is just a rumor — although one that is from a very reliable source. This isn’t a trade that is finalized, so the parts may change and it may fall apart, but what’s the NHL draft without some crazy trade rumors?