The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced the hiring of Derek Lalonde as an assistant coach for the team. Earlier this offseason, the Lightning relieved associate head coach Rick Bowness (now with the Dallas Stars) of his duties and agreed to mutually part ways with Brad Lauer (now with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL).
Bowness was in charge of the defensemen and the penalty kill. Lauer served as a spotter in the press box during games. Jeff Halpern was promoted from the Syracuse Crunch to take over coaching the forwards while Todd Richards shifted over to coach the defensemen. It seems that Lalonde will take over Lauer’s spot in the press box during games.
Lalonde is a different player-turned-coach situation than normal because he was a goaltender. Goaltenders tend towards specifically coaching goaltenders. Most coaches that were players tend to be forwards and defensemen.
Hailing from Brasher Falls in upstate New York near the Canadian border, Lalonde attended SUNY-Cortland for five years. After graduating from SUNY-Cortland, he began his coaching career with two years at North Adams State College and one year at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts as a Graduate Assistant. Lalonde holds a bachelors degree in Physical Education and a Masters in Education Administration. After earning his masters degree, he started moving up the ladder of coaching. He spent four more years as an assistant coach at the lower levels of NCAA hockey before moving up to division one in 2002-03. He spent four seasons with Ferris State University and a further five seasons at the University of Denver.
Lalonde got his first head coaching opportunity when he spent three seasons as GM and Head Coach of the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL. During that time, he also served as an assistant coach and then a head coach for two USA U19 teams for the World Junior A Challenge which both won gold medals.
Following his stint in the USHL, Lalonde was hired as head coach of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. He spent two years there before moving up a level to lead the Iowa Wild in the AHL. He has spent the past two seasons there with the Wild before taking this job with the Lightning. As a head coach, he has won a USHL Championship, USHL Coach of the Year, a WJAC Gold Medal, an ECHL Regular Seasion Championship, and ECHL Coach of the Year award. As an assistant, he helped Ferris State to a CCHA Championship and NCAA tournament berth and two WCHA Championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances with the University of Denver.
One thing that is clear from Lalonde’s career is that he is a winner. Everywhere he has been, he has helped his teams find success. Much like Jon Cooper’s rise through the coaching ranks. Lalonde will bring a different voice to the coaching staff and a different perspective that can help push this group further.