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Red Wings hire Lightning assistant Lalonde as next head coach

Lalonde Red Wings

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JULY 07: Derek Lalonde of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with the Stanley Cup following the victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Amalie Arena on July 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Canadiens 1-0 to take the series four games to one. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Detroit Red Wings hired now-former Lightning assistant Derek Lalonde as their next head coach. This makes Lalonde the Red Wings’ 28th head coach. Jeff Blashill’s lengthy run ended after seven years.

“I’m very pleased to announce Derek as our new head coach,” Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said in the team release. “He has proven himself as an excellent coach at every level and has spent the last four seasons in the National Hockey League as part of a very successful program in Tampa Bay. We feel he is ready to take the next step in his career as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.”

Red Wings hire Derek Lalonde as new head coach

It’s nice to see a non-retread get an NHL head coaching job. Instead, there’s that familiarity angle (some may call it ... “chummy”) as Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman brings in a figure from the Lightning team he once ran.

Lalonde, 49, was part of the Lightning organization as an assistant coach starting in 2018, when Yzerman was still with Tampa Bay. Beyond that, Lalonde’s been around, including spending some time coaching the Wild’s AHL affiliate.

The Red Wings’ release regarding Derek Lalonde gets into the granular detail of his winding way to becoming their head coach. That experience included coaching the wonderfully named USHL team the Green Bay Gamblers.

Personally, the best chuckle came from Lalonde’s modest pro experience:

A former goaltender in the Division III ranks with SUNY Cortland, Lalonde recorded a 3.93 goals-against average and 0.877 save percentage in 41 appearances for the Red Dragons from 1991-95.

Hey, at least that gives the Red Wings an EBUG, eh?

It’s hard to say what message the Red Wings send by hiring Derek Lalonde as head coach. On one hand, Lalonde has that experience helping the Lightning. On the other hand, he’s not a retread, so he’s not super-experienced.

Is the feeling that the coach and team will grow together? Or will there be big steps forward starting in 2022-23 ... or at least soon? Maybe we’ll get a better idea about all of that once the Red Wings start making offseason moves.