Now that the search to fill Senators vacant head position is drawing to a conclusion and the names of those who are receiving strong consideration are being revealed, I just wanted to say touch upon the inclusion of Paul MacLean on Ottawa's list.
First, the man has a fantastic duster that would do Wayne Scanlan proud.
Second, as is often the case when discussing anything related to the Detroit Red Wings during the offseason, it's no surprise that every other NHL organization is looking to purge the off-ice "talent" away from the organization that is often looked upon as the gold standard in the NHL. Case in point: I don't even know if we can go an offseason without hearing about one fan base yearning for Assistant General Manager Jim Nill to jump the shark.
In fact, it's because of Nill that when I learned that MacLean was receiving strong consideration and had been interviewed by Bryan Murray for the vacant head coaching position, I was slightly concerned. As we've seen in the past, the Red Wings have a non-competition clause that they have invoked on Nill that prevents any other team from speaking to him about filling a vacancy
In 2009, Pierre LeBrun wrote this blurb on Nill's consideration for the GM gig in Minnesota for ESPN:
May 24, ESPN: In Minnesota, congrats to Chuck Fletcher on getting the GM job. He's worked a long time for the chance and it's well-deserved. One note of interest, however, is we're told the Wild tried to get permission to talk to Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, but were denied by Detroit owner Mike Ilitch. That's been the owner's modus operandi every time a team has come calling for Nill, one of the most respected hockey men in the NHL.Maybe I'm reading too much into this but this exclusive clause that prevents Nill from leaving the Red Wings organization has left me slightly suspicicious about their willingness to let MacLean leave. Granted, it's probably a lot easier to stomach the loss of an assistant coach than it is to see a hockey ops/management type leave BUT I'm still suspicious of his availability. In fact, after years of watching Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, Eric Mangini, Charlie Weiss and other Belichick disciples leave the New England Patriots and flounder, I've grown cynical of the process. And of course it doesn't help matters that Dave Lewis, another former Red Wings assistant coach who was lauded as "the next big coaching thing", floundered with the Bruins.
Toronto also tried to talk to him last season. Nill, we're told, is fine with it. He signed his contract with the intent of fulfilling it. He's got two more years left. Once the deal is up, if I'm an NHL owner, I hire this guy in a heartbeat.
Have at it in the comment thread...
Good points about not getting caught up in the MacLean/Red Wings hype however MacLean was offered a contract extension by the Wings. They do want to keep him but they're being nice and let him try and move forward in his career. I assume he'll take the extension if he doesn't land a head coaching position somewhere.
@77Sens I was reading Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts blog piece this morning and he mentioned that Mike Babcock is selling Bryan Murray on the idea of bringing MacLean in.
I definitely think you're reading too much into this. I'm not sure how to answer this, but how many assistant managers/coaches have non-competition clauses in their contracts? I suspect that LeBrun mentioned this clause because it was so unusual and the fact that MacLean does not have one bears no indication on his value/abilities.
@Barnsley_Pal It's not that unusual. Ottawa once did the same thing regarding Peter Chiarelli leaving the team before the start of NHL Free Agency.
@Nichols6thSens Fair point about Chiarelli, but I think the issue here was not that he was leaving (the Sens did give him permission to speak with Boston), but the timing of the departure. He knew what Ottawa's plans were for the off-season and had even counted on signing Chara in Boston. Even still, generally teams are quite accommodating about letting their assistants pursue promotions from other clubs.
As you also pointed out, an assistant GM is much more integral to the overall strategy of the club than and assistant coach. I think that, more than anything, is why the Red Wings asked Nill to agree to the clause (they probably also promised him the GM position in the future). I still think this is the exception to the rule and not the norm and has no nearing on MacLean.
I think you answered your own question.
Nill was protected because he's the heir apparent in Detroit and holds a much more crutial position.
An assistant coach, regardless of the team, is not nearly as crutial.
Also the Belichick argument doesn't work as the Wings have been successful under multiple coaches other than Babcock. Babcock is as much a part of the system as he is a creator of the system, whereas Belichick IS the Patriots system.
This isn't en endorsement of MacLean, I still favour Muller, but I don't think he is being cast aside by Detroit, he's merely being given an opportunity.
@Senturion You're misinterpreting what I'm saying. I'm not saying that Detroit is "casting him aside", I'm saying that an organization should be wary about hiring the assistant coach on the principle of Detroit's success or that he's the assistant to Mike Babcock.
I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a mutual breakup, and my (so limited) understanding is that the Wings powerplay struggles were one of the reasons he was let go. But he'll probably get a job somewhere just on the 'stache qualification alone!
@Pmoron The Wings had the 5th best PP in the league last year...there were no struggles there. MacLean was not let go...the organization simply is allowing him to interview for career advancement.
Dave Lewis was never considered the "next big coaching thing". He took over the Wings after Scotty Bowman retired in 2002 largely because he was viewed as the communicator and the counter-balance to Bowman's hardness. That had earned him the trust and appreciation of the players, so it was seen as a natural move to keep continuity in the room. In his time in Detroit, it was clear that the players were taking advantage of Lewis who didn't command the same respect in the head coaching position. He was let go after the lockout was lifted and Babcock was brought on. By the time he went to Boston, he had two years of failure on his resume. He has been known as a great X's & O's guy...just not one who could effectively command a locker room.