Derek Lalonde does not want to recreate the Lightning in Detroit

Let Red Wings fans take it for granted: Derek Lalonde isn’t in Detroit to recreate the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team’s new head coach, a former protege of Jon Cooper, knows he’ll have to be patient with his rebuilding squad.

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In Cooper’s second full season at the helm, in 2014-2015, the « Bolts » reached the Stanley Cup Finals. Now that his assistant of the last four years, Lalonde, has been hired by the Wings, some might expect him to wave his magic wand and all the problems suddenly disappear.

“I expect him to do things his way, not necessarily the Tampa Bay Lightning way or the Jon Cooper way. I hired Derek for his way, and I think he’s smart enough. He is where he is because he was able to adjust, learn and grow from this experience,” explained general manager Steve Yzerman during the presentation to the Lalonde media on Friday.

This experience, the American has built it by being a pilot in the university ranks, in the USHL, the ECHL and the American League. He then joined the Lightning in 2018-19, helping the team reach the next level and win back-to-back championships.

A pink future?

During the reign of Jeff Blashill, the seasons in Detroit followed and resembled each other. The Michigan club has missed the spring ball for the past six years. For Lalonde, it is still too early to think about breaking this unfortunate streak.

“We got good in Tampa […] when we focused on the process. I know it sounds cliché, but sitting here and talking about making the playoffs and our position in the standings or our number of wins, I think that’s insane, it can hurt us. It can go to the wrong side,” said the 49-year-old man.

What’s promising about the Red Wings is the prospect bank. Moritz Seider, who was a Calder Trophy winner this season, and Lucas Raymond will be at the center of the rebuild. Players like captain Dylan Larkin, Jakub Vrana, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek form the core around which Lalonde can rely.

“Obviously not all the pieces are in place, but at the same time we have some interesting pieces to build on. That’s what attracted me to this job, because I could see a foundation,” he said.

The one who will have a lot of work this summer is Yzerman. The GM has a lot of space under the salary cap and will have to determine if he wishes to continue the adventure with certain veterans.

For the first time in years, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel in Detroit.


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