After serving as an assistant coach in the Devils organization at the AHL level for the past four seasons, Kevin Dean finally makes his much-anticipated debut as a head coach tonight when the Trenton Devils take on the Reading Royals at 7 PM.
The organization is confident that Dean is the man for the job, and confident that he can be the man to lead this team back to the postseason.
“We’re very confident,” said Trenton Devils GM Chris Lamoriello.
“We think the experience he had down in Lowell over the past four years with Kurt Kleinendorst and John MacLean has made him a better coach every year. He’s played at this level, he’s succeeded at this level. He’s played at the American League level and succeeded at that level. And he’s played over 300 games in the NHL with a Stanley Cup. So, as far as his resume, we think he’s ready for this as a head coach and as a first-year head coach.”
Dean, 41, is enjoying the transition from assistant to bench boss and credits current assistant Vince Williams with making everything a little smoother.
“It’s been fun,” he said.
“Vince has been great with it, too. There’s a lot in this league — paperwork, administrative stuff; immigration and all that — I had no idea about. Fortunately, Vince has taken a lot of that off of my plate so I can mainly focus on hockey.”
Lamoriello has seen what you guys have seen over the past few seasons as well — the Trenton Devils are not a first-half team. He’s hoping Dean can turn that trend around as well.
“We expect to win here,” Lamoriello said.
“The past couple of years, we’ve had slow starts which put a lot of pressure on the team. Obviously, the team is very capable after the halfway point, but at the beginning of the year, for whatever reason whether it be injuries or whatever, and those are excuses we don’t use and don’t want to use, but we need to have a better start.”
Dean said he’s had good dialogue with Kleinendorst and MacLean, but also credits another head coach in Claude Noel — former head coach of the Blue Jackets and current head coach in Manitoba — for someone he can bounce ideas off of.
That help, as well as help from others, has Dean feeling like he’ll be able to handle the challenge of his first full season as head coach.
“It hasn’t overwhelmed me yet,” he said.
“I’m sure once we get going here and we’ll hit a bump in the road at some point, how I react then is going to be interesting. But so far, it’s been fun.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com