McDonald: Devils Two Coach System Is Destined To Fail

Somebody tell Lou Lamiriello this is not the NFL. A team can’t be run with an offensive and defensive coordinator with an overseer as a head coach.

This is not the New York Jets and he is not Woody Johnson.

Hockey doesn’t work that way.

So his new “unique” coaching situation, with Adam Oates running the forwards and Scott Stevens looking after the blue line, just seems doomed to fail.

Even with Lamoriello on the bench as overseer, for some reason this situation doesn’t feel right. Who sets up the matchups? Who over rules whom when it philosophies conflict? And remember in hockey, you only have a few seconds to decide.

If the final word is Lamoriello’s then why doesn’t he just name himself coach and lean on his two assistants.

It’s all about accountability. Lamoriello knows he has a band hand with these Devils and wants to deflect blame from himself. He’s just the principal looking over a bad classroom with two instructors and when it fails it, he can just hire a new coach and let the two assistants go.

The Devils’ head honcho said he thought it was unfair to put a head coach in a situation where he only has half a season to coach.


There are 30 head coaching positions and there would most certainly be some candidate out there that would take the job. But you have to wonder how many calls were made from Newark yesterday.

Rather this unique situation reeks of desperation. Lamoriello wants to take the spotlight off himself and essentially have no one to blame when the season goes down the tubes.

Look, Lou is no dummy. He sees the standings with the Rangers playing great, the Islanders playing their best hockey in years, the Penguins being the Penguins and Barry Trotz getting more out of the Capitals than Oates ever did.

So the writing is on the wall and for the Devils to make the playoffs they have to probably play the best hockey in the league. With their talent level and age, it’s highly unlikely. If you brought in an experienced coach and he got New Jersey on track, then they probably will still finish out of the playoffs.

Rather what you have is a situation where you don’t have to pay a coach, while a veteran fire sale can go on in February.

By firing Pete DeBoer now, you have three and a half months to evaluate two coaches to see if one is the answer. If not Lamoriello can do a detailed search over the summer.

Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t work that way in hockey and the two coach system, no matter what you call it is a recipe for disaster.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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