Today was the first day of actual, on-ice practice for the entire New Jersey Devils roster at training camp. There was plenty of news coming from Tom Gulitti and Rich Chere; plenty to discuss over. I'm sure Devils fans are already talking about how Ilya Kovalchuk was lined up at right wing with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, reported here by Tom Gulitti. Already, ILWT user NjDeViLs33 has their own opinion, raising concerns with the decision in today's practice. You can discuss that there, though. Chere noted that Scott Niedermayer's #27 could be retired, I'm sure some have a thought or two about that. Also of note from Gulitti: Brian Rolston left today's practice with a leg laceration and this interview with head coach John MacLean which is a good read, if only in saying that he thinks Rolston will be back tomorrow.
However, what struck me the most was what Martin Brodeur had to say about John MacLean as a coach. Here's the quote by Gulitti:
He said seeing him today in his first practice as an NHL head coach wasn’t much different from when MacLean was a Devils’ assistant coach for seven years or when he was a player.
"He talks more on the ice," Brodeur said of the main difference. "It’s not a big change. I don’t know how many guys from when Lou (Lamoriello) was in charge of the team on the bench (as head coach at the end of 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons). Johnny was running everything almost: practices, meetings and stuff. So, for me, to hear him talk is not something new. It’s not different than the way he was. You can change your status in hockey, but your personality will stay with you and I think that from the steps he’s made so far, he hasn’t changed. That’s to his credit because sometimes some people try to change their ways and it doesn’t always work."
Do read the whole post, as it contains a full interview with the legendary goaltender. I'm going to focus on this quote in the meantime.
While a lot of attention is focused on Ilya Kovlachuk, one of the other looming questions about this season's team centers on the coach himself. Remember: It is MacLean's first year as a NHL head coach and expectations are high - as Brodeur noted in his interview with Gulitti. Given his inexperience as a head coach, it's very heartening to me to hear that MacLean did have a large role with the day-to-day activities of a head coach when Lou was interim head coach. While he didn't do it for a whole season in either year, he should have an understanding of what does and doesn't work.
Moreover, a number of important players on this season's roster has experienced MacLean being in charge on some coaching managers in 2005-06 and 2006-07. In addition to Brodeur, the current team captain Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias, Colin White, and Zach Parise all were around in 2005-06. You can add Andy Greene David Clarkson, and Travis Zajac given that they were present at the end of 06-07, too. (Rod Pelley and Mark Fraser got a few games in 06-07, but during the season when Claude Julien was still in charge.) Still, most of those players are crucial to the team's success now; and if they were content with MacLean in the past, then they may some continuity now. That's definitely a positive going into 2010-11.
It makes me feel more confident in the selection to hire him. I wasn't really in favor or against the hiring back in June, but I'm leaning more positively now that I know this information. Given that a majority of readers either liked or loved the hiring, I would imagine most of you are also happy to read this from Brodeur.
Therefore, I'd like to know what you think of MacLean now that the Devils are in preseason. Do you still like that he's the head coach? If so, why? If not, why not? Please vote in the poll and leave your further thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.