Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde has been working the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as a studio analyst on Canadian broadcasts for Sportsnet. So far, he’s been playing to smash reviews.
Along with the usual comparisons to Gru, the lead character in the animated Despicable Me films – a parallel that Lalonde often draws himself, by the way – the Detroit coach is proving to be a fountain of insight and nuance as he is offering analysis between periods of the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and his old employers, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
— Craig Hemingway (@cshemingway) April 24, 2023
In pulling back that curtain, though, is Lalonde revealing too much information? Could he be brewing up trouble for himself with hockey people for getting too personal in his revelations regarding players he used to coach?
Some in the game are wondering exactly that.
Lalonde Is Brutally Honest
One trait that’s became evident in dealing with Lalonde on a regular basis during his first season as coach of the Red Wings, is that he’s brutally honest. He’s going to give you the straight goods, even if it might hurt someone’s feelings.
Some of his players admit that took a little getting used to on their part.
“He holds guys accountable,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “I really have grown to respect him in that.”
While breaking down the Leafs-Lightning series, Lalonde is utilizing his past experience working as an assistant coach for Tampa Bay to pull back the curtain on strengths and weaknesses of some of that club’s players.
Anyone who’s ever spoken to Derek Lalonde really shouldn’t be surprised, but I have, and I’m still stunned at how excellent he is on television. That is not as easy as he’s making it look.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) April 24, 2023
For instance, consider this nugget of info he passed on to viewers about Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during Game 4 of the series on Monday night.
“Back in the day he was one of the lower percentage goalies in finding pucks from the point,” Lalonde said of his former netminder. “So we changed our entire D zone.” Lalonde went on to explain how the Lightning completely altered their pass lane coverage and set out to block more shots in order to compensate for this weak spot in Vasilevskiy’s game.
Is He Going Too Far?
Full marks to Lalonde for providing such detail to viewers, giving them a sense of being on the inside of the arduous level of minutiae that a team breaks down prior to a playoff series. Almost assuredly, this isn’t news to NHL pro scouts who make a living seeking out such potential weak spots that they can take advantage of in an opponent’s game.
That being the case, it’s unlikely Lightning coach Jon Cooper is appreciative of some of his team’s state secrets being broadcast across the public airwaves. It’s certainly rare for an active coach or GM to be so open about tendencies of other teams. You have to wonder what super secretive Steve Yzerman, GM of the Red Wings, is thinking about his coach being so open about sharing such information in a public forum.