On December 8, the Ottawa Senators fired coach Paul MacLean to replace him internally with assistant coach Dave Cameron. One week later, on December 15, the Edmonton Oilers fired coach Dallas Eakins. Initially, Sens fans were wondering if MacLean would be offered that head coaching job. Unfortunately, that fantasy was not to be. The Oilers hired their AHL coach, Todd Nelson, to take over the NHL duties behind the bench. Mid-season external replacement seemed a little far-fetched.
However, maybe not as far-fetched as we'd thought. The New Jersey Devils were the next team to fire their head coach, sending Pete DeBoer packing on the morning of December 26th. (It was nice of them to wait until after Christmas.) Later in the day, it surfaced that Paul MacLean is expected to be named as the new head coach of the Devils.
For MacLean, this is a curious move. The Devils are not a Cup competitor, and don't have a farm system with a lot of promise. He's unlikely to turn this team around in the short term or the long term. If he is not hired, he remains on the Sens' payroll for three more years, so this job does not give him financial security. GM Lou Lamoriello is notorious for firing coaches, and so it's unlikely that MacLean will even see a long term with the team. It's also a curious move for the Devils, as they seem unlikely to be a coaching change away from success. Maybe the goal is to let him get to know the team before he's expected to help them turn around. Or maybe they just really like Taylor Swift.
For the Sens, this is a pretty good deal. For a budget team, taking MacLean's salary off the books could allow for a bit more money for player signings. Or if Dave Cameron doesn't last past the end of the season, it could allow for the Sens to get aggressive and pursue a high-demand free agent coach such as Dan Bylsma.
UPDATE (10:41 am, Dec. 27): Despite looking like the favourite Saturday night, Paul MacLean looks to be out of the running with reports out of New Jersey indicated that former Devils Adam Oates and Scott Stevens will be behind the bench.
Lou Lamoriello will be on bench with Oates and Stevens for a short amount of time. Stevens and Albelin will coach D. Oates the forwards— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) December 27, 2014