OTTAWA - Paul MacLean is getting a chance to run his own show.
For six seasons, the 53-year-old was an assistant coach to Mike Babcock behind the Red Wings bench.
And after working for and learning from one of the best, MacLean is getting a chance to show he can be the boss. He’s leaving one of the NHL’s most successful organization’s for a chance to rebuild the Senators.
As an assistant, MacLean has been to three Stanley Cup finals, winning it in 2008 with Babcock over the Penguins.
Babcock deserves a lot of credit for Detroit’s winning ways, but like former Wings assistant Todd McLellan — now the coach in San Jose — MacLean has been a big part of the team’s success in the Motor City.
“I think I’m ready to do this,” said MacLean. “I don’t know if it’s my time, but I think I deserve the opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”
Worked in Anaheim, too
MacLean, who also worked as an assistant under Babcock in Anaheim, said he learned a lot from those years and he’s going to bring some of those attributes to the Senators.
“One good thing about being with (Babcock) was that I was in on everything that was done ‘The Red Wing way’ or ‘The Babcock way.’ Whatever way you want to put it. I was in there for every part of putting that all together, so I’m not stealing anything from him,” said MacLean.
“So our system, and the way we play, is probably going to be very similar. You have to play fast and you have to communicate with your players. That’s one of the things (Babcock) does well: He communicates with his players, empowers them to be better.”
That’s interesting because it’s been noted that Babcock doesn’t make many moves without consulting Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom — including just about everything from practice to flight times.
It wouldn’t be hard for MacLean to strike up the same kind of relationship with Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson.
For MacLean, working with Alfredsson will be easy. Coaching the Senators will not.
He’s leaving a team that boasts superstars like Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, for one that has a star centre in Jason Spezza and a blossoming blueliner in Erik Karlsson.
MacLean said he has to get the most out of every player.
“I know Jason Spezza is going to be an important player on our team and has been an important player on our team,” said MacLean. “We’re going to spend some time (together). I’m going to spend some time with Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno, Chris Phillips and everyone on the team.
“I want to get to know them and let them get to know me and find ways to make them important. They’re already important on the team, but we need to have conversations about my perception about the way they play and their perception about the way they play. At the end of the day, everybody just has to be a little bit better.”
And MacLean couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start on his first day with the Senators.