The 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs take on a special significance for the MacLean family from Malignant Cove.
Paul MacLean, in his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, is embattled in an opening round series with the Phoenix Coyotes. David MacLean, Paul’s son, is enjoying his third season with the Coyote organization.
The younger MacLean is head video scout with Phoenix while also handling some pro-scouting duties.
“The video part of the job is nice, that’s what got me here,” MacLean commented.
“The pro-scouting part is fun. You’re involved in meetings and have some input into trades and such. You’re more involved in things and I like that.”
MacLean scouts the Pacific Division, while also looking after the American League teams in the Western Conference.
He admits there’s uncertainty regarding his future in the sport but said there’s a possibility next season he could go into the scouting end of the business full time.
“That would be exciting,” he commented.
“In the long run though, I would like to work with my dad – that would be fantastic. He’s well-respected in the league and has been a good citizen. Hopefully at the end of the day they can say similar things about me.”
The Phoenix employee expects the series to be a highly competitive one.
He singled out coach Dave Tippett with turning the franchise around, noting the players have bought into his ideas and coaching style.
MacLean said the Coyotes were written off at the beginning of the season but that proved to be a motivating factor for the players.
Phoenix finished fourth in the Western Conference with a 50-25-7 slate and was one of four teams to record 50 wins.
“Meeting Detroit in the first round is probably good for us,” he said.
“Everybody is writing us off here too but that is motivating our guys to prove people wrong. This certainly won’t be an easy series for Detroit or for us for that matter. I think this could possibly go the distance.”
The teams met on four occasions during the course of the regular schedule, each team emerging with two wins.
No one is having more fun with the series than mom and wife Sharon.
She journeyed to Phoenix along with son A.J. and her brother Shaun Smith to view the games in Arizona.
“It’s very exciting,” Sharon MacLean said of the match-up.
“Whoever thought this would happen. This is the first time David has been involved in the playoffs with his team, rather than being with Paul. We went down Phoenix to support him and it was very exciting for all of us.”
Sharon MacLean said there are many similarities between father and son.
“Not only do they look alike but David has the same disposition as his father,” she said.
“His mannerisms are similar also. He’s a very kind person – he’s a real gentleman. He’s learned a lot about the game the past three years and he really likes the hockey business.”
David MacLean said it would have been nice to save the match-up for the Western Conference final which would then see at least one family member garnering a berth in the Cup finals.
“This is proving to be a nice little rivalry,” 24-year-old David commented.
“It’s easy for Dad and I because we have our teams that we want to win but the rest of the family is watching the games and sitting there having to decide whether to cheer or not after a goal. No question though, there will be some summer bragging rights after this one.”
Game one in the series, won 3-2 by the Coyotes, was the first time David MacLean had been involved with the NHL post season.
“The game was a good one,” he said.
“It was nice to get the first one. Friday night was actually close until the third period when Detroit took control and got a couple of goals. There’s lot of hockey left to be played.”
Detroit rebounded for a 7-4 decision in game two, while the Coyotes claimed game three by a 4-2 score.
David MacLean was focusing on the Red Wings free agent players early on in the series but said as the match-up continues he will possibly scout future opponents should Phoenix advance in the playoffs.
Paul MacLean noted having David working in Phoenix certainly adds some spice to the series.
“It’s pretty simple for David and I – we each have our teams,” the elder MacLean said.
“Everyone else is having some fun with it.”
MacLean said he is extremely proud of his son’s achievements to date in professional hockey.
“David has a great passion for the game and has a great work ethic to go along with that,” the NHL veteran said.
“I suppose the fact that he was in and around the game since he was young helped but he deserves credit because he’s done a great job for the Coyotes. He set up their video scouting system and people I talk to in the game compliment me on how well he’s doing and what a fine young person he is.”
MacLean said the future could see David in the hockey operations side of the game.
“Short term he may get into the pro-scouting aspect of the game which would be a huge promotion for him,” Paul MacLean said.
“I think his hard work, knowledge of the game and passion has created this rise in the ranks. He has a great relationship with Don Maloney (general manager) and Brad Treiliving (assistant GM) in Phoenix and he could have a great future with them.”
In looking at the series MacLean said goaltenders Jimmy Howard, Detroit, and Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix, will both give their franchises an opportunity to advance.
The Red Wings turned their season around after the Olympic Break and MacLean said the return of several key players from the injured list was instrumental in the turnaround.
“We finally dressed our full roster for the first time since the third game of the season,” the Wings’ assistant said.
Detroit posted a 44-24-14 record in regular season play and entered the playoffs with an 8-1-1 slate in their final 10 games.
Paul MacLean said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the series go six or seven in the race to four wins.
He said the Coyotes have a very good team and posted a good record during the course of regular season play.
“They’re well coached, have a good goaltender and are well-structured,” MacLean said.
“We expect every game to be a battle.”
The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008 and last year they were denied in the Cup final. MacLean expects the experience gained by the Red Wings players could be a factor in the playoff run.
“The players know how to respond to certain situations having been there,” he commented.
“Its part of the benefits of long playoff runs and in pressure situations experience can be a factor. At the same time the young legs of the Coyotes might end up making a difference.”
The 11-year NHL player said patience and poise will be a key for the Red Wings in their quest to hoist the Stanley Cup but added the skill level of the Detroit players could ultimately be the difference.
“The first few games of the series there was lots of physicality but at some point in time you have to play with the puck and that will be the difference in the end,” MacLean said.