Detroit Red Wings might have the hottest seat in the NHL part 1

Here’s part 1 of why I think head coach Derek Lalonde might be on the hotseat this upcoming season.
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Disclaimer: Let me start this piece with the following, I do not wish for anyone to lose their job. I do not dislike any of the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff. Contrary to what you might think after reading this series, I very much like them--especially their head coach. My appreciation for the man does not mean he's free from a fan's critique.

I thought I was Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde’s biggest critic. Especially when the likelihood of Lalonde keeping his job this upcoming season increased exponentially with the media availability:

Typically, if a head coach isn’t coming back for the next season, they are not invited to the media availability. 

This news wasn’t a surprise to me, however, it was a slight disappointment for numerous reasons that I will touch on in a bit. Before we dive into the constructive criticism I have for Lalonde I wanted to review the Steve Yzerman media availability as well:

Yzerman can get snarky in his media availabilities, which is a breath of fresh air from the mundane, typical press conferences. He has personality and he allows it to shine at times. Whether he’s joking about doing yoga during the draft prospect interviews with his camera turned off or taking jabs at Art Regner (all in good fun), Yzerman always brings a entertainment to his fans.

This media availability was a bit different than the previous ones with the Detroit Red Wings. His feistiness was turned up a notch, especially when it came to discussing the coaching staff.

While Lalonde is not relieved of his duties, Yzerman didn’t seem pleased with his team’s output in a certain capacity.

Here’s one of the things Lalonde needs to improve, otherwise he might feel his seat’s temperature rise.

Something Yzerman mentioned is basic fundamentals of defending. I’m not sure if there’s a bigger slight to a coach than questioning their team’s fundamentals. However, I couldn’t agree more with Yzerman’s assessment. 

As importantly, it would be one thing if the Detroit Red Wings iced a few rookies this season for a regular amount of time. 

With rookies or younger players, they might struggle with the details. Sometimes it’s the initial adjustment, the way the young player responds to teams’ adapting to them, or maybe they’ve moved to a higher quality of competition (such as moving to the second from the third line). It could even be a new role, added to a specialty unit (power play or penalty kill), something that they aren’t used to, and they are bound to make mistakes.

However, the Detroit Red Wings iced an older team. They were in the middle of the average age of NHL teams for the 2023-24’s opening night rosters at 28.4. With veterans who have not only competed in the NHL playoffs but have won Stanley Cups, I’m not sure how the lack of fundamentals occurred so regularly.

This average age didn’t change much throught the season. Aside from Simon Edvinsson playing regularly to closeout the season, there weren’t regular rookies or even players in their sophomore season in the lineup for any significant stretch of time.

Veteran players struggled with basic things, like corralling bouncing pucks, and knowing their systems well enough to keep the puck out of their own net. Countless times, players were either out of position, chasing the wrong body, or just standing around not doing anything.

It might be a testament to the system or the coaching staff’s ability to communicate the system effectively. Regardless of the reasoning, players must improve their overall play including the fundamentals in the defensive zone.

This aspect is just one of many reasons that the temperature is rising for Lalonde’s seat with the Detroit Red Wings.

To be continued...

Next. May 10. Grand Rapids Griffins awards round 1 of the playoffs. dark