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New Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde emphasized the need to balance player development with the responsibility of winning hockey games during a press conference announcing his hiring today.
Lalonde, who was the coach and general manager of the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League for the last three seasons, said he hopes to “build a culture of success.”
“We expect great things,” Lalonde said. “From the get-go it was the same message. It felt right. I don't think there is a better place in the [ECHL].”
In three seasons at Green Bay, Lalonde compiled a 114-56-14 record and led the Gamblers to a championship in 2011-12.
Lalonde said his entire coaching career has revolved around player development.
“At the same time we have to be responsible to win hockey games,” Lalonde said. “To find that balance between development and winning is hard to do. But people who are good in this league find that balance. That will be our goal.”
Lalonde, a native of Brasher Falls, N.Y., said he appreciates that the Walleye organization “trusts the history of Toledo hockey to me.”
He said he looks forward to turning around the fortunes of the franchise that went 21-44-7 and finished last in the Eastern Conference.
“This a team that was going through a transition and was still able to draw 7,000 to 8,000 [fans]. That was amazing to me,” Lalonde said. “I get goosebumps with what this could be.”
Lalonde, 41, was joined at the press conference by his wife Melissa, and his two sons, Alex (8) and Luke (5), and daughter Abby (3).
Joe Napoli, the team's president and general manager, said Lalonde stood out from a long list of candidates that came from “all over the world.” Napoli said an initial selection of 16 candidates was narrowed to a short list of six and finally to just two.
“What excited us about Derek is his fire and passion,” Napoli said. “But what really impressed us was his in-depth knowledge and his ability to motivate players.”