The anticipation is finally over! On June 30, 2022, the Detroit Red Wings announced that Derek Lalonde would be filling the head coaching vacancy.
This makes Lalonde the 28th head coach in franchise history, and marks the start of a new chapter for the team.
Lalonde’s Prior Coaching Experience
Lalonde was most recently the assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning and was hired into that position by none other than Steve Yzerman back in 2018. He has a lengthy coaching resume starting back in 1995 as a graduate assistant coach at North Adams State College. Since then, he has been an assistant coach at five other colleges including Ferris State University (2002-06) and the University of Denver (2006-11).
Lalonde’s career picked up some success, starting in the 2011-12 season, as he was the general manager and head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). In that season, he led the team to the USHL Clark Cup Championship, and was named the USHL Coach of the Year with a record of 47-9-14. He remained the head coach and general manager of the Gamblers until 2014, where he got hired as the head coach of the Red Wings’ ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye.
Lalonde spent two seasons behind the bench in Toledo, in which he had a 97-35-12 record. In the 2014-15 season, the Walleye were crowned the ECHL’s regular-season champions and brought home the Brabham Cup, but were ultimately eliminated from the Kelly Cup Playoffs in the third round. Lalonde was named the ECHL Coach of the Year and given the John Brophy Award for this accomplishment- his second time being given such an honor.
The last stop before the NHL for Lalonde was with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL), where he served as head coach from 2016-18. The Wild missed the playoffs both years he was behind the bench, and had mediocre records for both seasons, 36-31-9 and 33-27-16, respectively. The 2016-17 season was the first winning season in franchise history, but his team’s struggles did not tarnish his reputation as a coach in the eyes of Yzerman. Lalonde was hired as the assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the 2018-19 season by Yzerman, who was the general manager of the Lightning from 2010 until September of 2018.
Coming Up From Tampa Bay
In his first season with Tampa Bay, the Lightning won the first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history but it wouldn’t be the last of his career milestones behind the bench. Lalonde’s most notable accomplishments from his four years in Tampa were in 2020 and 2021 when the Lightning became back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, as he was coaching alongside head coach Jon Cooper. It was starting to seem as if Yzerman was waiting for the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs to come to a close before making a hiring decision, and some speculated if he was waiting to make calls to a prominent name in the Lightning organization. Well, it turns out that those speculations were all correct as the hiring announcement came out just four days after the Colorado Avalanche stopped the Lightning short of their third straight Stanley Cup win.
“I’m very pleased to announce Derek as our new head coach. 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.”-Steve Yzerman
Now that the head coach question has been answered, the floor is clear for Yzerman to start making big offseason moves with the roster and prospect pool. The 2022 NHL Draft is coming up on July 7 and the market to start signing free agents opens on July 13, so this hiring is just the start of the largely anticipated offseason magic for the Red Wings. Lalonde will be a NHL head coach for the first time this fall, as he follows in the footsteps of fellow first time NHL head coach Jeff Blashill who was with the Red Wings for the past seven seasons.
The preseason schedule for the Red Wings was just announced, and the first time Lalonde will be behind the bench for a game will be Sept. 27, 2022, on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Delaney Rimer writes about the Detroit Red Wings for THW who brings a new perspective to the hockey scene as a young female in the industry. Formerly, she wrote for Octopus Thrower- a Detroit Red Wings fan blog.