from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
What made Derek Lalonde attractive as an NHL coaching candidate is that he has a keen understanding of what steps are necessary to guide a team to the top of the mountain.
He was an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won 62 games only to be swept in the first round of the NHL playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lalonde was in that same job when the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. He has intimate knowledge about both failed and successful ascents to the summit of his sport. Lalonde knows both the anguish and jubilation of the climb.
That’s why you have to listen to him when he cautions against getting too carried away with the Red Wings’ early improvement. In reality, the Red Wings are only a few steps into their journey.
“Their will is really, really good,” Lalonde said. “I can see throughout our start here our execution is still a work in progress, which is understandable. This is the introduction of a completely new system. But their will is great. Anything we have touched on and we’ve tried to implement, they’ve done. So that’s a good sign going forward.”
He understands why fans are excited. The past six seasons have been difficult. Fans are looking for hope. A 3-0-2 start represents one of the four Red Wings’ best starts since 1967. Newcomers Dominik Kubalik, Ben Chiarot, Ville Husso and Olli Maatta are playing at a high level. Yet this team is still figuring out they need to play to be the best version of themselves. Red Wings fans have learned to hate the word “process” over the last few seasons. But the Red Wings are still learning Lalonde’s process.