Former Detroit assistants meet in Battle of San Jose

SAN JOSE — Thursday’s game between the Senators and the Sharks was shaping up as a battle between two former Detroit assistants, Ottawa’s Paul MacLean and San Jose’s Todd McLellan.
MacLean served as Mike Babcock’s assistant for eight years, two in Anaheim and six in Detroit, while McLellan was part of the group in Detroit from 2005-06 through 2007-08.
Not surprising, their teams have very Detroit-like looks to them.
“That’s fair to say,” said McLellan.
“I’m sure teams around the league will tell you that.
“We’re probably a little further along in our evolution with our own ideas than Paul would be, simply because Paul has just left there.
“Every time we play Detroit I’m asked that question, and, yeah, you bring a lot of the principles with you, but if you’re not changing and evolving with the players you have, you’re going to get left behind, and our game has changed a lot in our four years here.
“I would venture to guess that four years down the road with Mac there and the success they’re having, there will be a lot of change there, as well.”
McLellan said MacLean’s experience as a player was a valuable asset when the two were assistants in Detroit.
“Mac was the guy who played the 600 or 700 games, who scored the 40 goals, and his insights to the game were unique,” said McLellan.
“I always remember one thing, Mac always said, ‘Nobody ever made me back check. I didn’t have to. Nobody made me.’
He was referring to us as coaches, that we better get on our guys to back check, because nobody ever made him and he didn’t.”
MacLean chuckled when he heard that.
“I got paid to score goals,” he said. “And I did.
“But the game was different back then. They never made me.
“So we ask our players to do that now, and they have to do it.”

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