Red Wings hire Lightning assistant Derek Lalonde as new head coach
Detroit — Derek Lalonde has been named the new head coach of the Red Wings.
Lalonde becomes the 28th head coach in franchise history. A press conference with the new coach is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.
“I’m very pleased to announce Derek as our new head coach,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “He has proven himself as an excellent coach at every level and has spent the last four seasons in the National Hockey League as part of a very successful program in Tampa Bay.
"We feel he is ready to take the next step in his career as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.”
Yzerman previously hired Lalonde, 49, to be an assistant coach in Tampa Bay in 2017 when both were with the Lightning.
In his season-ending media availability, Yzerman mentioned that familiarity with someone he worked with before could be a factor in his hire, and he has that with Lalonde.
The success Lalonde has had developing young talent was a key ingredient in his hiring.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I’d like to welcome Derek, his wife, Melissa, and their three children — Alex, Luke, and Abby — into our Red Wings family,” said Christopher Ilitch, governor, president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Derek has an impressive resume, particularly the work he’s done with young players and prospects throughout his career. We’re excited to have him leading the charge behind the Red Wings bench.
"I’d also like to commend Steve and his staff for conducting a very thorough and detailed search process. We have the greatest fans in hockey, and they deserve a team that consistently competes for Stanley Cup championships. We’ll continue to work diligently toward that goal under the leadership of Steve and Derek.”
This will be Lalonde's first head-coaching job in the NHL.
"I’m thrilled to be named head coach of the Red Wings,” Lalonde said in a statement. “I’d like to thank Chris Ilitch and the entire Ilitch family, as well as Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings management team for entrusting me with the opportunity to lead this historic franchise. I’m ready to get to work with our group.
"There’s a very bright future ahead in Detroit.”
Lalonde replaces Jeff Blashill, who was relieved of his head-coaching duties after the season ended.
Blashill was 204-261-72 in seven seasons and missed the playoffs the last six seasons. There is a good chance Blashill could replace Lalonde on Tampa head coach Jon Cooper's staff in the coming days.
During his time with the Lightning, Lalonde helped the team clinch four straight postseason berths, highlighted by back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
In Lalonde’s first season behind an NHL bench in 2018-19, the Lightning earned their first Presidents’ Trophy after setting a franchise record with 128 points while tying the NHL’s single-season record of 62 wins previously set by the 1995-96 Red Wings.
In all, Tampa Bay compiled a 192-77-10 regular-season record and a 46-26 postseason mark with Lalonde on its coaching staff. Lalonde was named an assistant coach by the Lightning on July 12, 2018, when Yzerman served as the team’s vice president and general manager.
Lalonde, a Brasher Falls, New York native, has an impressive coaching resume, which includes some Michigan ties, having begun his coaching career in 2003 as an assistant at Ferris State. Three years later, Lalonde moved on to the University of Denver.
Lalonde won the USHL's Clark Cup in Green Bay in 2011-12. Lalonde guided Toledo to two division titles (Toledo is a Red Wings' ECHL affiliate), including being named coach of the year in his first season after Toledo improved by 58 points, still the largest improvement in ECHL history.
Lalonde then moved upward to the AHL, where he guided Iowa to its first winning season in franchise history in his first year with the Wild. Lalonde worked for two seasons as head coach of the Wild, from 2016-18, posting a 69-58-17-8 record with Minnesota's primary affiliate.
A former goaltender in Division III with SUNY Cortland, Lalonde recorded a 3.93 goals-against average and .877 save percentage in 41 appearances for the Red Dragons from 1991-95.