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Red Wings may undergo a major bench renovation as Paul MacLean will test the market

The Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James delivers something of a late-night bombshell: the Red Wings have already chosen to part ways with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, she reports that the team would like to re-sign Paul MacLean as Mike Babcock’s other assistant, but Maclean wants to “test the market” regarding potential head coaching positions:

“We’ve offered him a contract,” general manager Ken Holland said this week of MacLean. “We’re prepared to sit tight for a bit. He’s hoping to get an opportunity to interview with some of the head-coaching jobs available.”

Dallas, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ottawa are all looking for bench bosses. MacLean, 53, interviewed last summer with Columbus, which ended up hiring Scott Arniel. Holland said no team has called to ask permission to speak with MacLean, but it’s not uncommon for teams to wait until June before looking at candidates.

The Wings parted ways last week with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, who took over when Todd McLellan left to take the head-coaching job in San Jose three years ago. They have yet to interview any replacements.

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cowboycoffee's avatar

you think Ken Hitchcock is coming to town?

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 05/27/11 at 07:16 AM ET


As long as he leaves his moustache, I’m okay with it.

Posted by callmedrw on 05/27/11 at 07:28 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Ken Hitchcock and Barry Smith.

Posted by monkey from Prague on 05/27/11 at 08:11 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Ken Hitchcock and Barry Smith.

That’d be UNREAL.

Plus, we could pay them in cheeseburgers and piroshki.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/27/11 at 08:38 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Dammit, that was supposed to be a quote.  Whatever.

If MacLean goes, we’ll have to raid the nearest mariachi band for his replacement.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/27/11 at 08:42 AM ET

Chet's avatar

just shows the strength of the organization when anyone who spends some time in town can leverage it into a head ooaching position. somehow i feel like babcock is still the smartest, year in and year out.

of course, these are smart guys to start with, too.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 05/27/11 at 09:19 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

Teaching his methods to 2 new assistants will be a lot of extra work for Babs this year…....

Posted by w2j2 on 05/27/11 at 09:26 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Call me stupid, but I dont like this one bit, from a Lidstrom perspective.

I mean, I know the system won’t be totally different, but would anyone be surprised if Nick just decided “I’m too old for this shit?”

Old dog, new tricks, you know…

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/27/11 at 09:40 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Old dog, new tricks, you know…

It’s rumored that’s why Stevie hung ‘em up, but…

...Don’t, Herm.  Don’t.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/27/11 at 10:14 AM ET

pensfan29's avatar

Forgive me if im wrong, but as an outsider this looks like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Do any Wing fans see it that way?

Posted by pensfan29 on 05/27/11 at 10:47 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Posted by pensfan29 on 05/27/11 at 08:47 AM ET

Nah.  MacLean got an interview last year with Cbus, he’s a viable HC candidate. McCrimmon’s name has been out there for two years as well (including NHL.com placing his mug on a puck with a few other coaching candidates for an article a few weeks back).

If there was real drama, you’d be reading quotes from the players.  Not much to see here right now other than two guys that have waited a long time to get a shot as an HC.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 05/27/11 at 11:09 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Forgive me if im wrong, but as an outsider this looks like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Do any Wing fans see it that way?

Posted by pensfan29 on 05/27/11 at 08:47 AM ET

I don’t.

Perhaps the perspective that MacLean was looking for a head coaching position last year helps.  Nobody wants to stay an assistant coach forever.  I might think less of MacLean if I learned he didn’t go looking for other options.  An assistant coach who is happy just being the assistant is a complacent assistant coach.

None of us wanted McCrimmon back anyway.  If he’s fleeing a ship, it’s only giving it more buoyancy doing so.

The Rafalski retirement was a bit of a shock, but I believe him when he says the injuries got too much of him.  If Rafalski is the kind of rat who would flee a sinking ship, then it would make more sense for a “rat” to stay on that ship for another year and collect $6 million more.

Outsiders are going to believe what they want to believe.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/27/11 at 11:10 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

When Scotty was the Wings’ coach, Barry Smith and Dave Lewis repeatedly interviewed for head coaching jobs and/or assistant coaches’ jobs elsewhere. It became a yearly thing.

What we have to remember systemically speaking is that the coaches aren’t the only people who implement the system—while Babs makes the lesson plans, remember that when he came in, he wanted to turn the Wings into a dump-and-chase-and-trap team, and the management informed him that that’s not the system that the Wings play. Management has a big say in the way the team plays, and given that Curt Fraser and Jim Paek are told to teach the Grand Rapids Griffins the same blueprint that Babcock’s told to use as his template, we’re not going to see major systemic changes.

The “Red Wings way” will always change subtly but its blueprint remains the same, and…

If this was a sinking ship, you wouldn’t see Jim Nill stick around, you wouldn’t see Kirk Maltby, Chris Chelios or Jiri Fischer join the organization and stay there, and you wouldn’t see McLellan and Yzerman leave and have the success that they’ve had.

When you’re a very good team over an extended period of time, the door tends to revolve a bit when people who’ve grown feel that they want their chance at to run their own ship. So far, there’s been no long-term drop-off.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/27/11 at 12:01 PM ET


It’s rumored that’s why Stevie hung ‘em up, but…

Maybe, but that was coupled with the fact that the guy could barely walk out of the arena under his own power much of the time.

Nick is still in great health and has a lot to contribute.

Forgive me if im wrong, but as an outsider this looks like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

How so?

A retirement due to chronic back and new knee issues and an assistant who might interview for head coaching jobs?  Oh and, I guess, an assistant whose contract wasn’t renewed…

Posted by Garth on 05/27/11 at 12:43 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Forgive me if im wrong, but as an outsider this looks like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Do any Wing fans see it that way?

No.  Rafalski retired (chronic back and knee issues coupled with life and priority changes), McCrimmon wasn’t asked back (sayonara), and MacLean is testing the market (I agree has to leave the mustache if he goes).  These things happens to every team every offseason.

Posted by monkey from Prague on 05/27/11 at 09:16 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“Ken Hitchcock and Barry Smith.”


Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 05/28/11 at 03:09 AM 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.