He played in 1,022 games for the Devils. He was an assistant coach for the Devils for six seasons. He coached the Lowell Devils, his first season as a head coach, to a 39-31-10 record.
Now, it's time to finally give John MacLean a shot at the Devils head coaching job.
The other names being floated around, just a few days after Jacques Lemaire retired from coaching, aren't exactly exciting.
Ken Hitchcock? While he would be a perfect coach for the Devils system, it's clear that this is not what this team needs. The former Blue Jackets coach, fired at the end of this season, would really only bring a change of name to the bench. The style would be nearly identical.
Scott Stevens? Sure, that might be nice for nostalgic purposes, but he has no head coaching experience. A few more years behind the bench as an assistant would be best.. (and maybe a few extra lessons with the defensemen on toughness).
Robbie Ftorek / Larry Robinson? See Lemaire. The cycle of re-treads that has been going on with this team the last few years needs to end.
Mario Tremblay? He hasn't had a head coaching job in the NHL since '96-'97 with the Canadians, and he had mixed results in his two years with Montreal. He has been Lemaire's assistant since '01-'02 in Minnesota, so he would likely be a Jacques-lite.
Of course, naming Johnny Mac the head coach might be viewed as a re-tread, but he has never coached this team. He has been part of the organization since '83-'84. He put in his time as an assistant. Many felt he should have had a shot at the job before Lemaire was brought in last year.
He showed he can do a decent job this past season with Lowell. If the Devils plan on seeing what young players like Mike Swift, Nick Palmieri, Tim Sestito, Matt Halischuk, and Patrick Davis have, who better than MacLean, who coached all of them this past season, to coach them. He already knows what to expect from them.
He can also be a guy you let coach, and leave him there for a few years. No expectations. If you bring in another guy with head coaching experience, you put the pressure on to win now, or else.
The Devils, of course, will still be in "win now" mode, but as the last few years have shown, the head coach doesn't make much of a difference. If anything, that might put a little more pressure on the coach.
Bringing Johnny Mac in and letting him coach, free of some pressure, might be the best thing for this team.