On Friday, the New York Islanders employed John MacLean as an assistant coach. He has a protracted historical past with normal supervisor Lou Lamoriello; in 1983, he was drafted by Lamoriello, who was GM of the New Jersey Devils. The person known as “Johnny Mac” put up 701 factors in 934 video games in purple and black.
Many Devils followers have known as for MacLean’s quantity 15 to be raised to the rafters of Prudential Heart, and after the current announcement that the Los Angeles Kings will retire Dustin Brown’s quantity 23 and the San Jose Sharks will elevate the quantity 12 of Patrick Marleau to the rafters, it begs the query: might MacLean be the following Satan to have a quantity his quantity retired?
MacLean’s Devils Profession
MacLean was the Devils’ first draft decide of the New Jersey period. Earlier than the membership moved to East Rutherford in 1982, the Kansas Metropolis Scouts and Denver Rockies groups of the Nineteen Seventies ranged from mediocre to downright terrible. He debuted as a 19-year-old, placing up a single objective on 22 pictures.
MacLean’s first few years within the NHL have been a studying curve earlier than a breakout 31-goal season in 1986-87. A yr later, he scored an additional time objective towards the Chicago Blackhawks that despatched the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs for the primary time. He scored 18 factors in 20 playoff video games and was the second highest scorer on the group as they made a Cinderella run to the Wales Convention Closing. They fell to the Boston Bruins in seven video games, however the Devils, led by MacLean, have been now a menace.
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The following season was the most effective of MacLean’s profession. Not solely was it the primary of three straight 30-goal seasons, however he put up 87 factors in 74 video games. He additionally made the All-Star group for the primary time in his profession and have become a pacesetter off the ice.
Within the Nineteen Nineties, not solely did MacLean’s sport change, however the Devils did as properly. He had 78 factors in 78 video games and completed ninth in Hart Trophy voting whereas incomes one other All-Star nod. The group was now constantly making the playoffs, however they faltered. That was till 1993-94.
MacLean, now firmly in a job as an alternate captain, rebounded from a subpar 1992-93 season for a 70-point season the next yr. The Devils superior to the Jap Convention Closing, however infamously fell by the hands of the New York Rangers. In the course of the strike-shortened 1994-95 season, the Devils gained their first Stanley Cup, whereas MacLean matched his level complete from his first playoff look and was one of many veteran leaders on a younger Devils group. He performed one other season and a half for the group earlier than a midseason commerce to the Sharks.
A couple of years later, MacLean rejoined the Devils, this time as an assistant coach. He gained one other Stanley Cup with the group in 2003 earlier than bouncing across the NHL. In 2010, he grew to become the Devils’ head coach however was relieved of his duties 33 video games into his tenure. He finally grew to become an analyst for MSG Networks, working between the glass for Devils’ broadcasts.
Whereas MacLean might be not headed to the Hockey Corridor of Fame anytime quickly, he meant quite a bit to a Devils group that struggled to search out its identification. He was their first actual celebrity, and despite the fact that his contributions on the ice have been vital, it was his work off the ice that cemented his place in franchise historical past. He was the glue that held the group collectively within the early Nineteen Nineties, particularly as an alternate captain from 1989 till 1996 (aside from one season in 1991-92).
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MacLean is second in objectives, power-play objectives, and factors in Devils historical past and ranks fourth in assists and third in penalty minutes. He had six hat tips throughout his time within the Backyard State and 55 game-winning objectives, the second most in franchise historical past. MacLean additionally performed within the sixth most video games in Devils historical past; 4 of the 5 gamers above him have had their numbers retired, and the fifth, Travis Zajac, will probably have a quantity retirement ceremony of his personal sometime.
MacLean’s stats are similar to Brown’s, who took a Kings group that was one of many worst in hockey and led them to 2 Stanley Cup championships. Nevertheless, Brown spent his whole 18-year profession with Los Angeles, whereas MacLean spent a while with the division-rival New York Rangers.
MacLean has now been reunited with Lamoriello, the person who drafted him. On Dec. 9, the Islanders make their solely journey to Prudential Heart subsequent season. With the Devils’ longtime normal supervisor in attendance, it might be great to see the Islanders’ latest assistant coach’s quantity be a part of the likes of Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur, and Patrik Elias within the rafters. MacLean initiated the Devils’ rise to prominence, and he was the primary star that the franchise was in a position to name their very own.
Erik Johnsen is among the NJ Devils author for The Hockey Writers. He’s additionally a author for Triple Play Publication. Erik is a 2022 Rider College graduate, and co-hosts a podcast known as Too Many Males.