On Friday, Paul MacLean was hired as the third assistant coach to work with Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe for next season along with Dave Hakstol and Manny Malhotra. MacLean will be somewhat of a consultant, playing “eye in the sky” during games and providing a cover of expertise and experience behind Keefe, who will be starting his first full season as a coach in the NHL.
MacLean has encountered some familiar faces in his time within the small band of NHL coaches. I thought it would be interesting to go through all four eras of MacLean’s coaching career in the NHL and see what we can learn from him as a coach.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks — Assistant Coach (2002-04)
Believe it or not, but MacLean started his coaching career in the NHL behind Mike Babcock for both of their only two seasons with the Mighty Ducks. The pair coached a strong veteran team to the Finals in 2003 when they lost to the New Jersey Devils, but didn’t make the playoffs in 2004. JS Giguere did all he could in net, but there was no offense to speak of in Anaheim in the year before the lockout. The team was still good on the player side as they won their first Championship a few years after Babcock and MacLean left.
Detroit Red Wings — Assistant Coach (2005-11)
Speaking of, the two fled to Detroit together where MacLean coached for six seasons, winning a Stanley Cup in 2008, a year after the Ducks. This Red Wings team was an epic part of my childhood history of the NHL playoffs. Their back-to-back appearances against the Penguins was thrilling, especially when Marian Hossa picked the wrong team twice before winning three Cups in Chicago to start the next decade.
MacLean had four years of success in Detroit, but after back-to-back second round exits at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, he was let go and moved on to Ottawa to be their head coach. Looking back, this would’ve been a good time for Babcock to move on as well.
Detroit was the second-best shot share team in both 2010 and 2011, so it’s hard not to argue they were dominating games. The two teams ended with over 100 points in both seasons, it was mostly playoff expectations in Detroit that did it. Jeff Blashill and disgraced coach Bill Peters replaced him and Brad McCrimmon. The franchise has won one playoff round since.
Ottawa Senators — Head Coach (2011-14)
The Senators then hired MacLean to be their head coach alongside Dave Cameron, who eventually took his job at the end of his tenure. MacLean coached the Sens during their “Pesky Sens” era, winning a playoff round with a prime Jason Spezza, Calder Cup Champion Colin Greening, 20-year-old former Leaf Robin Lehner, 2020 Stanley Cup Finals team member Ben Bishop, and some other guys.
By the end of his tenure, MacLean was coaching some Leaf greats in Clarke MacArthur, Cody Ceci, and Jared Cowen. Somehow, they couldn’t get over the hump.
Paul MacLean: I believe you have to score your way to the Cup
Anaheim Ducks — Assistant Coach (2015-17)
The next season, MacLean got a job with the late Bob Murray again, coaching under two Leafs Legends in Bruce Boudreau and Randy Carlyle.
Boudreau had the tail end of the Ryan Getzlaf era, with Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, and Anton Khudobin as his goaltending trio.
Carlyle the next year had Gibson, Jonathan Bernier, and Dustin Tokarski in net. Yikes.
MacLean should remember Andersen, as well as Marlies centre Kalle Kossila, from his time there.
Columbus Blue Jackets — Assistant Coach (2019-20)
MacLean joined the Blue Jackets in November to help the struggling team get into the playoffs. He wasn’t on the bench for more than a few games, his role mostly had him as a consultant, similar to what he’ll be doing in Toronto.
Who’s your favourite former Leafs coach MacLean has worked with? (Sorry, Boudreau’s still only in our dreams)
Various Leafs Links
Sorry there’s no Pietrangelo articles today. It’s the weekend and I spent all last night celebrating the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Game 4 victory, giving the Lightning a 3-1 series lead. Kevin Shattenkirk! You can find my recap of the game here. Not to brag, but I’m 2-0 in the Finals when doing the Bolts recaps.
Game 5: Saturday, September 26th, 8pm ET (today)
The first buyout window has opened in the NHL. The lone name who has been given the boot is Bobby Ryan from the Senators. I have to say, giving yourself a substantial cap hit three and four seasons from now when your team is supposed to be good is a really smart and tactical move that doesn’t have anything to do with needing $3 million right now.
As you might have seen, the Leafs hired Paul MacLean as an assistant coach.
And if you missed it, how the Leafs can practically fill their right defense hole and not have it turn into 2019 again.