DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings have hired Derek Lalonde to coach their rebuilt team, hoping that the assistant two-time Stanley Cup winner will be able to take all the right steps to make the franchise relevant again.
Lalonde has spent the last four years in Jon Cooper’s staff at the Tampa Bay Lightning, which included the 2020 and 21 championships, and most recently his third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
“He has proven to be an excellent coach at all levels and has spent the last four seasons in the National Hockey League as part of a very successful program in Tampa Bay,” said general manager Steve Yzerman in a statement. “We feel ready to take the next step in his career as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.”
Yzerman was CEO of Lightning when he promoted Cooper to his first position as head coach in the NHL in 2013. This is the first time Cooper’s active assistant has jumped into a major position in the NHL.
“I am ready to start working with our group,” Lalonde said in a statement. “We have a very bright future in Detroit.”
Lalonde, 49, as well as Cooper won the United States Hockey League title with the Green Bay Gamblers. Prior to joining Lightning, he trained in the ECHL and the American Hockey League.
After a two-month search, Lalonde replaces Jeff Blashill, who did not have a team option on the contract after seven seasons. Blashill had a percentage of 0.447 points, the second worst in the league at the time – not counting the debut season of the Seattle Kraken expansion.
Yzerman didn’t reveal much when he spoke to reporters at the beginning of the search, but said knowing a new man in the lead would be a plus.
“Derek has an impressive resume, especially the work he has done during his career with young players and prospects,” said President and CEO Chris Ilitch in a statement. “We’re excited to lead the attack behind the Red Wings bench.” I would also like to commend Steve and his staff for carrying out a very thorough and detailed search process. “
Detroit did not win a playoff spot for six consecutive years after being in 25 consecutive seasons and winning the Stanley Cup four times. But Lalonde has some players potentially able to lead the turn.
Veterans Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana are proven players ahead and Lucas Raymond, who was also an excellent newcomer last season, is a promising striker who will join them in the lineup.
Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider is ready to anchor the defense for years to come, filling a void that has not been resolved since Nicklas Lidstrom retired ten years ago.
For the first time, Yzerman, a Hall of Fame player with the Red Wings, has a hand-picked coach with a once-proud franchise he leads.
After drafting and gaining the talent to make Tampa Bay a two-time champion and a regular contender, Yzerman kept arguing that it would take some time for Detroit to become the winner again, and refused to set a rebuilding schedule.
Lalonde, as fast as he can, will shoot to ress the shortcomings of the Red Wings next season with relative stability after Blashill has been training with job insecurity in recent years.