Paul MacLean to the Ducks: Something or Nothing?

It was reported over the weekend by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that the Anaheim Ducks are interested in bringing on Paul MacLean to their coaching staff. With the recent firing of former assistant Brad Lauer, the former Ottawa Senators’ head coach is a prominent candidate for the job.

The timing of this development is odd considering the Ducks’ recent timeline of events. Friedman reported just two weeks ago that the relationship between Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau and general manager Bob Murray had become “strained”. With Lauer’s departure, a guy who had been in the Ducks’ organization since 2011, there’s a sense that management is looking to shake things up behind the bench.

Let’s Make Comparisons

MacLean has an established track record as an assistant coach, dating back to his days alongside Mike Babcock behind the bench of the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The proud Nova Scotian would follow Babcock to Detroit, where he eventually helped capture a Stanley Cup in 2008.

His story as the head coach of the Ottawa Senators’ is well known: instrumental in developing some of Ottawa’s young talent, twice nominated for the Jack Adams Award (which he would win in 2013), and ultimately fired by an ownership group that simply refused to spend.

MacLean’s teams were not only surprising at the time, but they were also legitimately good. The Sens averaged a stellar 52.73 score-adjusted shot attempt percentage at even strength under MacLean, showing that the mustached coach can direct some fine five on five hockey.

For the sake of comparison, Anaheim has averaged a 49.8 shot attempt percentage at even strength under Boudreau. The Ducks had a 51.3 percentage this season, so there has been improvement in that regard.

Something Or Nothing?

Having MacLean on the coaching staff  next season would incur some serious tension in Anaheim. The voices calling for Boudreau’s head would grow louder and louder after every loss. On top of that, would Boudreau even be able to coach to the best of his ability knowing that his replacement would be standing right next to him on the bench? And would MacLean be able to contain his well known rabble-rousing personality in a reduced role?

By the same token, the former Ottawa coach’s track record at even strength indicates that he would have plenty to offer in improving the Ducks’ current team. One of the biggest reasons Anaheim bowed out against Chicago in round three was their inability to keep up with the Blackhawks at even strength. MacLean could certainly help alleviate some of that.

Given Boudreau and Murray’s strained relationship, it’s not much of a reach to say that there really is something to the MacLean news. Murray is sending a message that Boudreau is on thin ice. Having a former Jack Adams winner added to the coaching staff would send it loud and clear.