clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Devils' Coaching Search Could Be Held Up Due To Blackhawks' Assistant Becoming A Candidate

Five candidates are still in the running for the New Jersey Devils' head coaching position according to Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger. The position opened when Jacques LeMaire announced his retirement after his team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

Among the candidates are former Penguins head coach Michel Therrien, AHL Lowell's head coach John MacLean, current Blackhawks assistant New Jersey native Mike Haviland, Canadiens assistant Kirk Muller, and longtime NHL head coach Ken Hitchcock. Therrien seems to be the current favorite.

SB Nation's In Lou We Trust has a breakdown of each of these potential candidates. After reading their breakdown, two candidates seem to stand out:

John MacLean being promoted to head coach of the New Jersey Devils would be seen as "deserved move" by some. MacLean has been an assistant since the 2002-2003 season and was assigned to be the head coach of the Lowell Devils in the AHL last summer.  MacLean became the first head coach of the Devils' AHL affiliate to take the team to the playoffs since John Cunniff did it in the 1999-2000 season.  One can't say he hasn't paid his dues, so to speak.

On top of all of that, MacLean has been a Devils player from 1982 through 1998.  If anybody understands the organization from both perspectives, it's him.   The move to make him a head coach in Lowell was seen to be a test to see how he can command an entire team.  That he took the Lowell squad to a winning record and a postseason  berth has to be seen as a success. MacLean himself said it was useful, per this post by Rich Chere back in May.  He was part of the coaching staff in New Jersey, so most of the team should respect him as a coach.  Plus, he'd have more insight into some of the current Devils and how to handle them than an outside candidate.

Mike Haviland is probably a reason why there hasn't been much news about the head coaching search.  Haviland is currently an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks, who's currently fighting the good fight in the Stanley Cup Finals right now (Game 5 is tonight).   Of course, Lou is notoriously secretive about his process and that may be more of a reason.  Still, if Lou wants him, then he's got to wait a little bit.

On the surface, there's a lot to like about Haviland.  He was born in New Jersey and was drafted in the 1990 supplemental draft by New Jersey.  He got his start in coaching in pro hockey with the Trenton Titans of the East Coast Hockey League as an assistant.  After two seasons, he become the head coach of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, went to two Kelly Cup Finals and won one in three seasons before taking the Trenton Titans to the Kelly Cup glory in 2005.   Since then, Haviland jumped up to the AHL for three seasons before Chicago moved him up to an assistant.  In his entire minor-pro coaching career, 7 seasons, his teams always had winning records and made the playoffs.

For more on each candidate and for more on the Devils all year round, check out In Lou We Trust.