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Farewell, Paul MacLean: Red Wings’ assistant coach to become Ottawa’s bench boss

Update #2: Via Twitter, the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline says Ken Hitchcock might be heading to Detroit to replace MacLean: Not exactly staggering news from Ottawa, via the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek...

If, as expected, the Ottawa Senators name Paul MacLean as the ninth coach in franchise history tomorrow, his hiring will represent a sound choice - and a bit of a departure for an organization that last handed the reins to the untried Cory Clouston three years back.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun...

The Ottawa Senators have hired Detroit Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean as their new coach, sources told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun.

The Senators are expected to announce the hiring as early as Tuesday, sources said.

And TSN’s Bob McKenzie:

The Ottawa Senators are expected to formally announce Paul MacLean as their new head coach at a news conference on Tuesday.

MacLean has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach to Mike Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings. MacLean’s playing career spanned 11 years with stops in Detroit, Winnipeg, and St. Louis.

He will become the Senators’ ninth head coach since the team re-joined the NHL in 1992-93.

Update: The Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Citizen’s Allen Panzeri, MLive’s Ansar Khan...

Paul MacLean has been hired as the head coach of the Ottawa Senators, an NHL source confirmed today. He will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday.

MacLean, 53, first interviewed with the Senators two weeks ago and had his second interview over the weekend. This will be his first NHL head-coaching job. He has been an assistant with the Red Wings under Mike Babcock for the past six seasons and two years prior to that in Anaheim, where he also worked for Senators general manager Bryan Murray.

The Red Wings parted ways with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon last month.

Now they will be seeking two assistant coaches. Candidates to fill those positions include former NHL head coaches Pete DeBoer, Todd Richards and Gerard Gallant as well as former Windsor Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner.

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James…

The Free Press has learned MacLean, 53, will be introduced this week as the ninth head coach of the Senators. MacLean spent the past six seasons as an assistant to Mike Babcock in Detroit. This will be his first head coaching job in the NHL.

The Wings also parted ways with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon last month. Babcock has chatted with several possible replacements for McCrimmon the past few weeks, but many candidates want to see whether they have a shot at a head coaching job first. Dallas, Minnesota and New Jersey are looking for head coaches, and Winnipeg is exploring the possibility of replacing Craig Ramsay.

And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirm, with Kulfan noting that the Wings have a few candidates in place to replace MacLean and Brad McCrimmon:

Wings GM Ken Holland said he and Babcock have begun the process of identifying and interviewing candidates to replace MacLean and McCrimmon. There is a talented list of candidates available.

Former Plymouth Whalers head coach Pete DeBoer, who was fired after two seasons of head coach of the Florida Panthers, is presumed to be a candidate, along with former Windsor Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner.

While at Windsor, Boughner coached the Spitfires to consecutive Memorial Cup championships.

Former Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards also is a candidate.

The Wings begin organizational meetings tomorrow.

The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirms as well.

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Comments

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Great gig for MacLean, wish that ‘stache nothing but the best.

Babs has been with him since day one as an HC in the NHL, it will be interesting to see how he does without him.

Filling his spot with Hitch would be a solid start.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 06/13/11 at 06:02 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I keep thinking back to the last Nashville game to something, I think it was Shae Weber, said.  “It’s no secret how to beat them”

Babs TRUE TALENT as a coach is to recognize great ideas even when they aren’t his ideas.  Fresh blood is what we need, a new perspective.  A different way of figuring how to utilize the talent we have on the roster.  I think a couple new points of view will greatly benefit this team.

I’m hoping like hell we get Boughner.  You saw the system he and Arniel put in columbus at the beginning of last year and until Detroit spanked them home/home they were riding high and looked like a legit club.  Love to see some of those ideas come to Detroit.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 06/13/11 at 06:17 PM ET

Cliff's avatar

Yeah… about Hitchcock.  Originally, I loved the thought.  But if Babcock is looking for is “fresh ideas”, is Hitchcock really the right guy?

However, it might work well to add one grizzled veteran in Hitchcock, let him clean up our “new look” defense, and then save the “fresh ideas” for a new guy to work with the offense.

Posted by Cliff on 06/13/11 at 06:24 PM ET

Avatar

Two down, one to go. Fire Babcock.

Posted by ByeBye Babcock on 06/13/11 at 06:39 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

I would be so happy with Hitchcock and Boughner as our assistant coaches. Do it, Kenny. Then go get Wisniewski.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 06/13/11 at 06:44 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

Congratulations to Paul MacLean!

Posted by w2j2 on 06/13/11 at 07:30 PM ET

monkey's avatar

NEW IDEAS:

1.  Use Lidstrom on the PK.  I call this “let your best defender be your best defender”.

2.  When you put together a pair such as Brett Lebda and Jonathon Ericsson, then find they are terrible, do not leave them together for the rest of the season.  Injuries are no excuse.  If you are suiting up six defensemen you have other options.

3.  Instruct your players on how to recognize an aggressive forecheck and how to use it against the other team.

4.  Do not ever break up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Who gives a rip if they’re both centers?  They are peanut butter and jelly, Babbles; they go together.  You never, ever, ever, break up your top line because it looks neater on paper.  In case you were wondering, and god help me sometimes I think you are, your top line is Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Zetterberg.

5.  The next time Johan Franzen states he doesn’t care about the regular season, bench him for five games.  See if he cares then.  If not, suspend him without pay.  Send a message.  You should know as well as anyone the regular season matters and you need your top players to give a shit.

6.  Penalty killing.

7.  Defense.

8.  Seriously, what the *#$%@&?  Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Zetterberg.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/13/11 at 08:01 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

5.  The next time Johan Franzen states he doesn’t care about the regular season, bench him for five games.  See if he cares then.  If not, suspend him without pay.  Send a message.  You should know as well as anyone the regular season matters and you need your top players to give a shit.

A-friggin-men.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 06/13/11 at 09:14 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Monkey,

Um… Yeah….

1. If the Wings don’t take a lot of penalties, fine, but if they do, can Lidstrom still log 25 minutes every night, every other night, or for whatever stretch without losing his offensive game? There’s a reason he scored big goals (or made big shots for tip-ins) this past season: ice time reduction.

2. Half the defense was shot that season. The offense too. Nothing worked. Lidstrom looked terrible at times… And this past season Lebda was no longer on the team and Lidstrom dominated (see 1) so I don’t see how that matters…

3. This is where that new offensive coach comes into play. Holland and Babcock still need to find someone to replace McLellan.

4. Have to disagree. Pav and Z are both more effective centering their own lines at even strength. However, on the power play and during four-on-four situations sending them out together is a no-brainer.

5. Right on. No more talk about the regular season not meaning anything, that’s when they get their pay checks so they better play like they deserve them. And that goes lifetime for Franzen.

6. Make sure to sign Miller and Eaves to keep grinding out the PK with Helm, and don’t cut Pav and Z’s PK time until they are past their minute eating years. Pav and Z can play 25 minutes per night if necessary, as do some other top forwards around the league. When necessary.

7. Can’t comment on the defense until it’s signed… That goes for team defense as well…

8. Seriously, that’s called the #1 Power Play, not the top line.

This will be a very interesting summer!

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/13/11 at 09:33 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

4. Have to disagree. Pav and Z are both more effective centering their own lines at even strength. However, on the power play and during four-on-four situations sending them out together is a no-brainer.

I agree, but only because Fil is far more effective offensively when he’s on the wing. Love me some Flip, he’s a fantastic 2-way center, but he just doesn’t think attack enough when he’s the pivot. But if he wants to take that step this season and prove me wrong, I’m all for that.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 06/13/11 at 10:36 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

i still like pav and Z together of course. Two guys I thought were dynamic together also was Danny and Bert. But who is the third guy? I’d like to say Fil, I like Fil. But like above, go for the throat and attack! They need someone who can feed, shoot, grind. Im up in arms with Franzen, lets see if he comes to play.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 06/13/11 at 11:25 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Umm, yeah, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?

1.  Don’t take a lot of penalties (call this one idea number nine).  The Red Wings, after all, “are a disciplined team”.  Ice time considerations are always going to come into play, that’s part of the game.  However, giving the top shutdown defender in the league reduced PK time doesn’t make sense.  You play your best players in key situations. 

Last season the penalty kill and defense were mediocre at best; by Red Wings standards they gave up 30 too many goals.  They also gave up too many minor penalties. 

Detroit gave up 300 shorthanded opportunities on 332 total penalties and allowed 53 power play goals for a penalty kill percentage of 82.3%.  They ranked 13th in the league in minor penalties taken with 311, 17th in penalty kill, and 23rd in goals allowed.

If they were top five in minors taken (287 instead of 311),  they would have 24 fewer minors for 48 less penalty minutes.  Their new total of 706 penalty minutes would have been best in the league (Pete DeBoer and the Florida Panthers were the real #1 at 716 PIM) and would represent a reduction of 6.4%.  For arguments sake we’ll say that equates to a 6.4% reduction in shorthanded situations, which would leave them with 281.  A top five penalty kill runs at 85%; with only 281 penalty kill situations that would equal 42 power play goals allowed.  Oddly enough that would have been a top five result and is a reduction of 11 goals off their real number.

Take 11 goals off Detroit’s GA and they would have been ranked 15th, tied with defensive juggernaut Dallas.

This is a two step proposal- reduce minors and then increase penalty kill percentage.  I haven’t given any ideas as to how to stay out of the box (execute Ericsson?), but I can guarantee you giving Nick Lidstrom more PK time would have made it better.

There’s a reason he scored big goals (or made big shots for tip-ins) this past season: ice time reduction.

It is impossible to know this.  He made up his mind early on he wanted to have a better season, then he went out and did it.  He is the best all around defensemen in NHL history; that is what he does. I refuse to believe that an athlete of his caliber would see such a huge difference due to two minutes less a night.  If all the minutes were wearing him down and he couldn’t keep up he would have already announced his retirement.

Half the defense was shot that season. The offense too. Nothing worked. Lidstrom looked terrible at times…

That’s true, but the Lebda-Ericsson pairing worked least of all.  Yet there they were, night after night.  That’s a coaching decision.  A really bad one.

And this past season Lebda was no longer on the team and Lidstrom dominated (see 1) so I don’t see how that matters…

I don’t either.  This past season has no relevance to what I was referring to, and I never questioned Lidstrom’s performance in any season.

7. Can’t comment on the defense until it’s signed… That goes for team defense as well…

It still relies heavily on coaching.  The fact is that Detroit has been, until the past two years, one of the top defensive teams in the league, year after year, with all sorts of different players. We went to two straight Cup finals with Andreas Lilja.  2010 was a disaster due to injuries;  for 2011, he has no such excuse.  Coaching.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/13/11 at 11:59 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

We went to two straight Cup finals with Andreas Lilja.

Andreas Lilja in the 2008 playoffs makes me want to watch movies about gladiators after watching Salei disappear.

Worrying about what other teams do to us on the forecheck is two steps behind the real difference between the Wings of the last two years and that league-leading defensive squad.  Those Red Wings played defense on the other side of the red line. 

It all still ties back to coaching.  I’m interested to see what two new assistants are going to bring to Detroit.  I’ll know by December whether I want to join the “Fire Babcock” crowd.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/14/11 at 01:36 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Nate A,

Totally agree about Fil. I’d love to see him step up his game, and he is at the age where he will now likely define himself for the next few seasons. He either ups his offensive game consistently this coming season or he’s looking like he’s a shoe-in for 3rd line center, top line winger. I don’t know why he’s not as aggressive at center offensively as he is on the wing as he has the speed and hockey sense to maintain his defensive standard. He’s also a solid penalty killer and power play center. But, it could take a contract year, or he could be an even slower break out player. Some players with his talent don’t put up numbers until they hit 30 years of age, and then they play great two-way top line hockey for about four or five years before they go back to defensive roles. Still, if that’s what Fil is, I’m happy to have him and it’s then up to the coach to get all he can out of him and the GM to keep the cap hit down.

NIVO,

Bert and Cleary seem to work great with Z up the middle. Cleary has the wheels to keep up with Z, and they do a great job taking turns being the net man and the board man, allowing Z and the defense to cycle and create scoring chances that all three are capable of burying. Pav has done well centering the pair as well, so I see the ‘twins as interchangeable with their own lines. I’d actually like to see Franzen play more center, especially if he’s in a slump. Babcock used to move him to center when Franzen was slumping a few years ago because he said it forced Franzen to handle the puck more and eventually get him going. Franzen could become a solid scoring center if the coach wanted him to give it a go. That being the case, in theory he might be the guy to play between Bert and Cleary, allowing the ‘twins to play together with Homer.

Monkey,

I can’t argue with your solid point about penalty reduction leading to all the defensive improvements because it does. Less PK time means everyone is in the game and the players who have to kill the penalties aren’t overworked, thus the energy line(s) can run at full speed at even strength, and the Wings can then roll four lines consistently, something many teams cannot do. As for coaching, I have to ask why Babcock does not use Franzen at center more like he used to. Case in point, Fil scores on the wing but not at center, so why not have Franzen play the middle and move Fil to the left wing with Bert or Cleary on the right wing? At this point the team needs to restructure its defense, and we are getting new assistant coaches. I’d love to have Hitchcock as one, and quite frankly the guy who the Wings should bring in to run the offense is the same guy who ran his own unit as a player in both San Jose and Detroit, Igor Larionov. Why doesn’t Holland bring in The Professor to do what he’s already done in an official capacity? Talk about a stalked deck behind the bench…

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/14/11 at 04:04 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Worrying about what other teams do to us on the forecheck is two steps behind the real difference between the Wings of the last two years and that league-leading defensive squad.  Those Red Wings played defense on the other side of the red line.

True, true, true.  [begins to weep, quietly]

It all still ties back to coaching.

Yes, it does.

I’ll know by December whether I want to join the “Fire Babcock” crowd.

The fire is toasty warm.  Very comfortable in the cold months.  We’ll see.  I’m generally ok with Babs because of his accomplishments and because Kenny is ok with him, but I become dissatisfied when I really consider what has been going on around here lately, in reality dating back to 2008-2009, when defense first started going out the window and late starts became normal.  Coaching.

I can’t argue with your solid point about penalty reduction leading to all the defensive improvements because it does.

Yes, I made a “water is wet” argument, and darn it all if I wasn’t right.  I had a good time looking up all those statistics, I found it interesting and telling.  Such small swings can lead to such large results.

Less PK time means everyone is in the game and the players who have to kill the penalties aren’t overworked, thus the energy line(s) can run at full speed at even strength, and the Wings can then roll four lines consistently, something many teams cannot do.

Yes.

As for coaching, I have to ask why Babcock does not use Franzen at center more like he used to. Case in point, Fil scores on the wing but not at center, so why not have Franzen play the middle and move Fil to the left wing with Bert or Cleary on the right wing?

Put it on the list.  Things like this comes up All The Time.  “Player X plays best in such a such position, yet Babbles almost never plays him there.”  “Player Y plays great on the power play, yet garbage on the PK, and here he goes out while we’re shorthanded, again, and he hasn’t had any power play time in seven months.  I’ve seen the guy play the point, well, and we’re using Ruslan Salei on the second unit.”  “Our penalty kill is in the toilet, so Babcock reduced our best defensemen’s PK time.”  Each individual decision can be debated, but the aggregate indicates poor decision making (I don’t know that we ever used Salei on the power play, but it sounds like something Babcock would try).

Why doesn’t Holland bring in The Professor to do what he’s already done in an official capacity?

That would be awesome.  I was thinking Pete DeBoer and Ken Hitchcock, so we could have three head coaches (I am easily amused), but Igor Larionov is an excellent candidate.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/14/11 at 08:38 AM ET

Since71's avatar

Swagger.

Posted by Since71 from Bucharest, Romania on 06/14/11 at 02:09 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.