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Whoever It Is, Don't Expect Next New Jersey Devils Head Coach to Radically Alter the Team

Given that much of the recent news surrounding the New Jersey Devils is about coaches, I'd like to point out a very important quote that Tom Gulitti posted in the second comment (10:01 AM) to his post today at Fire & Ice.  The quote comes from Lou Lamoriello, with Gulitti's commentary included:

It was kind of overlooked at the time, but here is what Lamoriello told me about the coaching search the day Lemaire announced he was retiring.

"Philosophically everything will stay together and we certainly will not put anybody in a position that doesn’t have the same continuity that we’ve had for years."

Based on that, I don’t see them bringing in a coach that will completely change the system.

If you think the next Devils head coach should change the team's style of play, then that's one thing.  That's a debatable point. However, to expect the next head coach will change the team's style of play, that appears to be foolish given Lou's quote.

I know some fans aren't going to like reading this, but it makes perfect sense.  The Devils have 15 players under contract for next season (source: Cap Geek), most of whom have been a part of the Devils' emphasis on defensive responsibility for several seasons.  The minor league players (presumably) have been developed with this philosophy in mind, understanding what it takes to get a spot in New Jersey.  Even if the Devils go out and get crazy in the free agency market, the majority of this team has been playing with the Devils' philosophy in-mind for years.   A new head coach isn't going to change this immediately - even if Lou gave him the power to do so (and he won't).

Even if Lou eschews Michel Therrien (who hasn't been offered anything, so don't worry about him for now), Ken Hitchcock, and Guy Carbonneau, this isn't going to change.  If  anything, this statement would be most validated if the Devils promote John MacLean to New Jersey.  He's been a  player for New Jersey from 1984-85 through 1997-98.  After retirement, he moved onto being an assistant coach on the New Jersey since 2002 up until 2009, before being assigned as the head coach of Lowell.  MacLean knows "Devils hockey" better than any of the candidates. MacLean has been groomed as a head coach under the ways and means of "Devils hockey."  I don't think he would stray from what he's been a part of for so long of his career as a player and a coach if made head coach of the New Jersey Devils. 

For those who think he'll change how the Devils play so drastically, let me ask you this: Why would MacLean deviate from what he's been taught from management (Lou) and other head coaches (who bought into/preached the Devils philosophy) all along? 

In that vein, this quote shouldn't be interpreted that Mike Haviland or Kirk Muller has no chance.  If anything, Haviland may come across better among the "outsiders." Gulitti noted later in the comments to the same post that the Chicago has been quite committed to defense (10:28 AM) and that Haviland worked closely with Chicago's defense (11:00 AM).   As for Muller, all this would mean is that through an interview that he'd have to prove that he's as committed to the Devils' style of play.  Was he responsible for anything defensive on Montreal? This Elliotte Friedman article at CBC says he definitely was, which is heartening; though the Canadiens really were more fortunate than anything else in beating Washington and Pittsburgh in this year's playoffs.

Again, the point of this isn't to say that Therrien has the best chance, or whether someone would or would not be a good head coach of the Devils.  It's that whoever it'll be won't cause the Devils to play a highly offensive game in 10-11.  Most of the 09-10 roster will return, the minor league players won't forget what they've learned, and Lou is still in control of this team.   Before anyone says how horrible this would be, consider how the Devils lost in recent seasons. Was it really the system, or were there other factors?  From what I recall, it wasn't the system unless someone would like to prove otherwise.   Defensive responsibility, hard work,and character will be cornerstones of this franchise now and for years to come.  The next head coach won't change that, and Lou certainly won't allow it.