Coaching staff in place
Hockey is a big sport for being regionally connected. Head coach Mike Babcock grew up in Saskatchewan. McLellan is a Saskatchewan native. So to replace one prairie coach, the Wings bring in another Saskatchewan native, McCrimmon.
(McCrimmon also keeps the Mc/Mac thing going among Red Wings assistants. Paul MacLean signed a three-year deal today to remain with the organization. McLellan out, McCrimmon in. If they were more about corporal punishment, we could call the lot of them the Mc/Mac paddy whack crew. I hope Ken Holland takes note that I'm a MacLeod and other than having no credentials whatsoever for the job, would be a perfect fit on the Mc/Mac coaching staff should a Mc or Mac depart.)
All of which is neither here nor there if McCrimmon does a good job and I suspect that he will. He's got a nice blend of NHL experience as a player (1,222 career regular-season games) and as a coach (assistant for both Calgary and Atlanta). This is also a nice fit with MacLean being a former high scoring forward and McCrimmon being a defenseman in the day. I'm guessing that MacLean's duties will be shifted from the blue line to the forwards and perhaps from the penalty-kill to the power play.
Regional bias can hurt a franchise -- again, I think that McCrimmon is a nice fit regardless of native province. Doug MacLean was from Prince Edward Island and always liked to hire people from his home province -- from Gerard Gallant as head coach in Columbus to Grant Sonier as an assistant coach with the Fraser-based Detroit Falcons -- and the results weren't always good.
In a ships-passing-in-the-night note, McCrimmon was brought in as an assistant in Atlanta by Bob Hartley after the Thrashers fired Curt Fraser. Fraser was recently hired as the new head coach of the Wings' top affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Wings also hired a video coach to replace Jay Woodcroft, who is now an assistant coach under McLellan in San Jose. Keith McKittrick (good Lord another Mc, how are we going to keep this all straight) has been with the Michigan State program for the past three seasons.