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Lightning Round: Derek Lalonde reportedly interviewed for vacant Red Wings head coaching position

Could Coach Cooper lose one of his trusted assistants?

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Worldwide leader of breaking hockey news, Keven Weekes, reported on Wednesday that Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Derek Lalonde was in Detroit to speak with Red Wings about their vacant head coaching position.

While Syracuse Crunch head coach Ben Groulx has long been bandied about as a possible future head coach, and has interviewed for a few open jobs in the past, this is really the first time we’ve heard that some of Coach Jon Cooper’s assistants have drawn interest. At least since Rick Bowness departed for the Dallas Stars head coaching position.

It was bound to happen sooner or later simply because of the success Cooper has had behind the bench and the credit he has lavished on his assistants like Lalonde, Jeff Halpern, and Rob Zettler. Teams that are rebuilding often look to poach assistant coaches from championship organizations and the Lightning certainly qualify a that.

Lalonde joined the Lightning in 2018 after two seasons as the head coach of the AHL Iowa Wild. Prior to that he had coached in the ECHL (where he earned Coach of the Year accolades) and in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers, the same organization Cooper had once coached.

If Lalonde does land the job, it’ll be his first permanent head coaching job in the NHL, but the self-deprecating 49-year-old does already have a couple of wins on his resume. In December, he stepped in as the head coach when Cooper was sidelined due to COVID protocols and won two games.

Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman was in Tampa when Lalonde was brought aboard and is familiar with his track record. Earlier in the off-season, Mr. Yzerman was quoted as saying that he prefers coaches he knows about as opposed to hiring a complete unknown. Both Lalonde, and Halpern (who is also rumored to be in the running for the Detroit job), would fit the bill as known commodities for the Detroit general manager.

One interesting fallout if Lalonde or Halpern head to Detroit is that former Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, the man they would replace, could find a spot on Coach Cooper’s staff in return.

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