The Detroit Red Wings are in need of a head coach for the team ahead of the 2022-23 season. After firing former head coach Jeff Blashill, the team is on the hunt for a new bench boss. There are plenty of options out there, but the Red Wings will not pull the trigger on someone until they do their due diligence.
Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman is not messing around. He’s done an incredible job with this team this far in the rebuild, and there’s got to be faith in him to find the right guy to lead the Red Wings. They may miss out on some of the big names in the meantime, but Yzerman will find the right guy.
Pete DeBoer is one of the names that sticks, as did Bruce Cassidy until he got scooped up by the Vegas Golden Knights. Others like Lane Lambert and Barry Trotz from the New York Islanders seemed like good fits, but the Red Wings have yet to pull the trigger.
But there are plenty of other names out there; the Red Wings have to go out and find the right guy for the job. If there’s one thing that fans should do, it trusts the Yzerplan, even if they do not hire the flashy big-name head coach. There’s under the radar hires who are plenty intriguing.
Here are three under-the-radar coaches the Detroit Red Wings should hire.
Option #1: Nate Leaman, Head Coach at Providence College
The Detroit Red Wings should consider reaching into the NCAA level to grab Nate Leaman. He’s been with the Friars for the last eleven seasons, posting his tenth winning season in 2021-22. He’s been able to really get ahold of the Providence program and lead them successfully.
Not to mention, Leaman coached the Friars to a national championship in 2015, which started to generate some buzz around him and the program. While he has received some buzz for head coaching gigs in the past, the Red Wings have not been on the list.
Leaman is someone the Red Wings might be able to target under the radar and take a chance on. Not only has Leaman had success with the Friars, but he has also been rewarded with the opportunity to coach World Juniors teams for the United States, something that Blashill had done as well.
If Yzerman wants to test his luck with an NCAA coach, Leaman might just be the guy for the job.
Option #2: Jukka Jalonen, Finland’s International Coach
While it’s doubtful, the Detroit Red Wings are doing their due diligence on the coaching search. I would not be surprised if the coaching search reaches overseas and not just for Sergei Fedorov. If Yzerman works with his resources over in Sweden, they may be able to plug him in with the guys over there due for a chance.
Jukka Jalonen has been the man Finland has trusted their international teams to in recent years and has been able to get the job done. Most recently, fans of IIHF hockey might remember that Finland won it all during the 2019 IIHF World Championships, the same year that Kaapo Kakko was in the race for the top selection in the draft.
Finnish talent is apparent across the league, and there’s plenty more in the pipeline, so Jalonen getting a shot makes sense when he’s helping produce quality talent overseas. He got some coaching buzz after his IIHF championship, but that has died down a bit, leaving the Red Wings with a chance to swoop in and grab him.
He’s had success in Finland, and the Red Wings need someone who will foster a winning culture. Could taking a chance on the Finnish coach be worth it? Yzerman has to figure it out, but Jalonen is an intriguing option.
Option #3: Derek Lalonde, Tampa Bay Lightning Assistant Coach
Perhaps the most intriguing option that has not gotten as much press as coaches like Trotz and DeBoer is Derek Lalonde, the product of the Tampa Bay. The obvious connection with Yzerman and the Lightning is there, so it’s easy to get on board with him being on the Detroit Red Wings’ list of candidates.
Lalonde was named an assistant coach alongside Jon Cooper in 2018, a move made by Yzerman back when he was with the Bolts. Since then, Lalonde has remained on Cooper’s staff for two Stanley Cup Championships, with a third possible if they get the job done against the Colorado Avalanche.
Before his time as an assistant coach with the Lightning, who are performing like a dynasty, he was a coach for the Iowa Wild, and before that, the Toledo Walleye, who are the Red Wings ECHL affiliate. Every stop on the track of Lalonde’s coaching career has brought success for the program or team he’s been with; it’s remarkable.
Now a mentor to Cooper, who has been an incredible coach of the Lightning, Lalonde is putting himself in a spot to get his chance as a head coach. The Red Wings are silly not to consider him, and with Yzerman’s familiarity with him, it’s easy to see how this could happen.
It’s going to take some time, and the Red Wings are going to do their due diligence. After all, the Red Wings cannot hire Lalonde until after the Stanley Cup finals end if that is who they are after. Fans should buckle up and see it through, trusting the Yzerplan.