The Detroit Red Wings haven’t exactly had the wildest of men behind the bench over the years. Scotty Bowman could get riled, but simply stared down Marc Crawford during the latter’s infamous game four meltdown back in 1997. Mike Babcock would chirp at times, but usually stayed emotionless. Jeff Blashill would argue, but often stood looking at the scoreboard, sometimes with humorous facial reactions.
Derek Lalonde took it to a new level not seen before in Hockeytown. After a lost coach’s challenge during Detroit’s 7-4 win over Pittsburgh Tuesday night, Lalonde let the refs have it. It was a tirade that would make former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland proud.
And similar to Leyland’s fate following a few of his outbursts, Lalonde was ejected.
Pre-Detroit Officiating: LaLonde is a mild-mannered bench boss
— Red Wings Rant (@Red_Wings_Rant) March 29, 2023
Red Wings Fans Love The Reaction
Detroit fans were quick to Twitter with kudos for the tossed bench boss. A collection of colorful words mixed with hand gestures, the appearance was a coach fed up after a bad call following a squandered 3-0 lead.
Lalonde 1st star.
— Brad Krysko WWP 🇺🇦 (@BradKrysko) March 29, 2023
But there certainly is something different for some viewers, long used to the coaching staffs of Red Wings past who at times sneered or yelled, but rarely kept pounding home the point like a fan would from the seats. Blashill, it turns out, was the last Red Wings coach ejected from a game. But he was already a solid three years into his tenure.
On some levels, it was the very “Detroit vs Everybody” vibe that so many Motor City fans swear by. After another season without a playoff appearance, the outburst revealed more than just a bit more than an angry coach.
It will be another postseason without Detroit in it, but the fire and resiliency shown in the victory against Pittsburgh might be a sign of something else as the offseason approaches.
“We had that emotion tonight that we had early in the season,” captain Dylan Larkin said of the effort. “It was good to see.”
For fans, too. As Detroit plays out the string on the season, fans are looking for anything to grasp onto as they watch other teams fight for Lord Stanley’s Cup. It was once Detroit, for 25 straight seasons, that shrugged off the regular season and sharpened its saw for the postseason.
Sure, the luster ran out as the previous decade wore on, with the Red Wings only advancing beyond the first round once in its last five appearances. The rebuild slowly turned the hardcore fanbase’s attention to the draft, a spot where they have also seen their team slide, just in the lottery. There’s a lot of pent up frustration and hope for a relevant team again. So as the season winds down, be it a hardcore or casual fan, they just want to see their team care as well. In fact, many Red Wings fans saw themselves as Lalonde blasted the call.
Lalonde got tossed and I actually love that passion. Tellin it how it is.
— Brian Fisher (@BrianFisherWWJ) March 29, 2023
Lalonde’s Reaction Goes Beyond the Moment
The Red Wings could lose the remainder of their games, but the moment signals another change in the mindset as they move beyond a rebuild. The coach brought in from the team that won consecutive Cups and fell short of a third straight hasn’t experienced a lot of losing lately. Frustration surely mounts and it was on display Tuesday night.
But Detroit fans synced with the moment after years of frustration. Much of it started with a bitter 2009 Game 7 loss to the team skating against the Red Wings. But it only built from there, losing the Final to missing the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.
Seeing the outburst rekindled the emotion. It might have been the play, and a series of frustrating moments for Lalonde, but for many fans viewing, it was a sign of fight. A little bit of Detroit vs Everybody from the team itself.
Maybe a sign that the staff, like the fans, is tired of the same ending every season. Perhaps it’s the best sign for a weary fanbase that things are continuing to change in a more favorable direction.