John MacLean hasn't found a place to live yet in Lowell, Mass. and is unsure how different his role on the ice will be in training camp when it begins -- rookies report for training camp physicals beginning at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Still, MacLean is excited to get started in his first camp as head coach of the Lowell Devils -- New Jersey's AHL affiliate -- after being an assistant coach for the NHL team since 2002.
"It is going to be a little different, so I'll get a feel for some things." MacLean said today before the Devils alumni golf outing at Upper Montclair Country Club. "It will be something new. It's a learning experience. It's exciting."
It will be MacLean's first experience as a head coach, something he felt he needed after being an NHL assistant coach for six seasons. He was passed over again for the Devils' NHL job when Jacques Lemaire was hired on July 13 -- something he discussed at length during the Devils' rookie camp in July. http://njmg.typepad.com/devilsblog/2009/07/john-maclean-looking-forward-to-new-challenge-as-head-coach-in-lowell.html#more
MacLean still hopes to be a head coach in the NHL some day, perhaps with the Devils, but knows he has things learn running his own bench in Lowell. At this point, he doesn't even know what players will be on his team.
"The biggest thing for me is just to keep an open mind," he said. "There are some kids that will be there and some I don't know. So, we'll just have to wait and see. When we get underway we'll deal with who we have and what we have and go from there. To prepare, you know you're going to be more in the game plan. You know you have to be prepared each day and being prepared is all part of learning."
MacLean said he has not had a chance to talk yet with Lemaire about how training camp will go with the NHL and AHL players. "We'll get into that in the next day or two," he said.
Lemaire said that rookies and veterans will be mixed in three groups -- two of which will scrimmage on each of the first three days of camp before the NHL team's first preseason game on Sept. 16 against the Rangers at Prudential Center.
MacLean is looking forward to his new challenge.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a new experience for me and hopefully I'll be up to the challenge."