Over the past few days, many Devils fans have become anxious about the naming of a new head coach. It was believed that Ken Hitchcock, Bob Hartley, Kirk Muller, and Guy Carbonneau were the top candidates as the Devils' search began, but now a new list of candidates, Mike Eaves, a former NHL player for the Minnesota North Stars and current Head Coach at the University of Wisconsin, and Craig Ramsey, the former coach of the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets), appear to be the front runners. Rich Chere of the Star Ledger reported the possibility of hiring either Craig Ramsey or Eaves, while Gulitti only mentioned Eaves.
Let me start off by saying that I am happy to see Lou exploring his options. In past years, I have occasionally felt that Lou Lamoriello has rushed to making coaching decisions and not thought out the decisions completely. The consensus around this type of thinking could have been that Lou could take over the team and "right the ship" if his hiring "failed" (I quote failed because Lou has a very different opinion of failure than you and I do - see Claude Julien). Last year, many, including myself, were ecstatic that Lou hired John MacLean. But what were the real reasons we were so excited? I was excited because MacLean was familiar with the organization, was finally given his chance to prove he could coach on the NHL level, and would bring a new system to the Devils. In the end, none of these things matter if games are not won. That's why I believe the MacLean hiring was a failure, besides the catastrophe of injuries and cap problems that hurt the team. Now that Lou is thinking outside the box, it is obvious the Devils organization, according to Gulitti, is trying "to hire a head coach they believe can end the constant turnover behind the bench and grow in time with a team that will be a young one in the coming years, as veterans such as Martin Brodeur, Colin White and Brian Rolston move on. They thought they had that guy in Sutter, but he left after only two seasons to be closer to his family and businesses in Alberta" (see article URL at bottom).
How can this not be a positive? I have argued before that John MacLean's failure should not dictate the next coach of the New Jersey Devils (link at bottom). Though I did not provide the best statistics (looking at how the 32 coaches from last year did in their rookie seasons as coaches is hardly a proof), the point of that article was not to draw an ultimate conclusion, but remind us to be open-minded throughout the coaching search.
Let me share a quick sidenote. I'm a big New York Jets fan and consequently finished reading Rex Ryan's new book "Play Like You Mean It" a few weeks ago (I have a point to all of this). Rex explains that the Jets were using a much more thorough and thoughtful method to determine who the best candidate to become coach was than they had done when they hired Eric Mangini. Now that the Jets have reached two straight AFC Championship Games, their switch appears to have paid off. Back to the Devils. If Lou is indeed using a more careful searching process, it is obvious his mission to end the "constant turnover" is not just a politician at his best, but real.
A few quick comments on Mike Eaves and Ramsey. I think it would be great for Lou to give either one of them a chance only if Lou feels that person is qualified. If I was using Pre-MacLean speech, the preceding sentence would have read "I think it would be great for Lou to give him a chance". We have all learned, using Post-MacLean speech, that no coaching hire, like a playoff berth, is not a given.