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Lalonde: Expectations Ramping Up For Red Wings

Does Detroit have what it takes to make the next step?



Derek Lalonde, Red Wings coach
Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde is anxious to discover if his team can handle an increase in expectations.

Next season could be viewed as the year of the more for the Detroit Red Wings. That’s because the team will be dealing with so much more than they were at the outset of the 2023-24 NHL campaign.

There will be more expectations placed upon this team after missing this season’s playoffs via a tiebreaker. That will lead to more pressure, more responsibility and more growth within the team.

Will it all result in more wins? That’s the great unkown at this juncture. But it will also lead to more opportunity and Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde is viewing that as a good thing.

“Expectations for certain are going to change and that’s a positive,” Lalonde said. “Those expectations changed when we went 16-4-2 in February. Expectations changed when we started the season 5-1. Expectations changed when we won six straight.”

When it comes to this additional pressure to succeed, Lalonde says it’s all about perception. His players shouldn’t view it as stress, but rather a chance to shine.

“Don’t shy away from that,” Lalonde said of added expectations. “It’s reality. We want to grow somewhere. We’re going to grow. Of course, expectations are going to change as we keep building this and that’s all part of it.”

Red Wings Must Be Ready For Added Expectations

Lalonde is greething this chance to see what his team is made of with excitement.

“If we don’t have the stomach for it, we’re going to be in trouble,” Lalonde said. “I have the stomach for it. Our group has the stomach for it. It’s part of growing.

“Our goal next year is going to be simple: We want to build on what we did this year. We had a great start in my first year last year. We had a great start this year. That was as simple as having a great training camp. Our goal will be the same next year, great training camp and a great start.”

Lalonde Won’t Say Playoffs Are The Goal

While the fanbase is certainly going to be viewing next season as playoffs or bust, Lalonde isn’t ready to go there yet. To him, it’s still remains all about the process.

“I really think playoffs will take care of itself,” Lalonde said. “I rarely said that all year. We talked about being above the line. When you start saying playoffs, you start putting outcome ahead of your process and we’ll never get there.

“It’s our process and there were times within our season our process was amazing. There was times within our season it wasn’t good enough, and that’s why we didn’t make the playoffs.

As well, he wants to see how his team reshapes in the summer.

“It may be harder next year,” Lalonde said. “This team will look a little different. It may look a little younger. We benefitted from some phenomenal free agent signings and some phenomenal veteran leadership that came from some of those free agents who may or may not be here next year.

“We still have some holes on our team. We’re not a finished product, we’re flawed in some ways. I don’t see teams in our division going anywhere. You look at the Buffalos, the Ottawas. New Jersey was a 100-point team a year ago. These teams are only going to get better.

“So just saying playoffs, we’re not to that point right now where it’s obviously a given. We have to earn it and we got to keep pushing it.”