Steve Yzerman and the rest of the Red Wings organization have officially hired their 28th career head coach, Derek Lalonde.
The Detroit Red Wings have officially filled their head coach vacancy. After a long and tedious process, Steve Yzerman and the rest of the Red Wings organization came to the conclusion that former Tampa Bay assistant, Derek Lalonde, was the right choice.
Derek Lalonde stressed in his introductory press conference that the thing he first wants to establish is good communication and relationships with the players which is actually kind of ironic given the fact that he was hired on the same premise.
When general manager, Steve Yzerman was asked about what he was looking for in a coach he simply stated that he wanted a person he gets along with. He wanted someone who can communicate and can coach in different levels and situations. Derek Lalonde fit those requirements. And now we are looking at the 28th coach in franchise history.
Now, although the hiring itself was important, what’s more important is how he plans to handle himself in a situation as unique as this one.
The Press Conference
To begin the press conference, it started as you expected. The Red Wings owner Chris Ilitch and general manager explained the hiring of Derek Lalonde and stated that they felt that he was the right guy for the job.
It wasn’t exactly a surprising statement since he stated he wanted someone he knew well. And who else other than the assistant coach from his former team?
But, although they didn’t go too far in depth, there were some pretty insightful and front-forward questions asked right off the bat.
Helene St. James asked Derek Lalonde to start the interview, “What are your first steps as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings?” The response was actually quite surprising in a manner of speaking,
"“Immediately, it’s very important for me to get ahold of each player. I’ve been a relationship based coach my entire career.” – Derek Lalonde"
Derek Lalonde who has been known as a bit of a aggressive leader. The type of guy who has no problem dropping the hammer on his guys to try and light a fire up under them. But, the fact he stated he wanted to build a relationship with the team and get in touch with them early to establish a good first impression was not what I was expecting to say the least. But I like the style.
The following question that really caught my eye was,
“When you went to Tampa Bay, that team was well on their way to success. Obviously this team hasn’t taken that many steps yet. Is coaching coaching or do you have to coach a little bit differently than when you did when you were in Tampa?”
It was a fair question and one that should’ve been asked.
"“I think the process will be very similar. I know, even the first question, you’re probably hinting more on how were going to look, where we want to be. I mean, every team in the offseason looks to improve their team defense, looks to improve their special teams, and we’ll be no different.”"
That was a fair response although it was rather vague. He talked about gauging process over wins because in the presence of growth and process, everything else will take care of itself.
Now, here were the true key takeaway from the press conference:
"“I’ve found it to be a little more of a partnership. Good players want to be held accountable. You have to hold them accountable. We’ll hold guys accountable here. But at the same time, it’s a bit of a partnership.”“I’m going to care about the guys. We’re going to have a very good relationship, I’m going to want to have a relationship, I’m going to want to get to know the guys. Then when those hard conversations do come about, maybe there’s some trust there.”"
Final Thoughts and Expectations
The Red Wings seem to be in good hands. However, words don’t mean as much as actions so we’ll have to wait till the season starts.
In the rebuild process, you can’t have too many expectations set, but what I can say about the press conference and Lalonde is that he seems to be going at everything the right way. Establishing a defensive core that can check hard and not give space. Furthermore, he wants to have relationships with the players to establish trust in each other.