GLENDALE - John MacLean had a cozy job as an NHL analyst on TV, but he's given it up to get back into the challenging grind of working for a team.
The Coyotes named MacLean, and Scott Allen, as assistant coaches to Head Coach Rick Tocchet on Wednesday.
MacLean, 52, reached out to Tocchet via a mutual friend regarding his interest in the job and conversations followed.
"As I talked to (Tocchet), I got more excited about my passion to get back into the day-to-day operations of coaching hockey and being a part of it and trying to make a difference with some young NHLers," MacLean said. "When I looked at the roster and the talent level that they have there … you can see a direction that they're going in. It's a reboot for the organization and I think it's a tremendous reboot with the talent and the youth that they have. That's the NHL nowadays; you have to have that talent to begin with and then build with it. I think that will be exciting to do with this team."
MacLean is no stranger to coaching NHL players. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach for the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-14. Before that he spent eight seasons as a coach in the New Jersey Devils organization, including seven years as an assistant coach and 33 games as head coach in 2010-11.
Tocchet said MacLean will work with Arizona's forwards and help design the power play. Arizona ranked 26th in the NHL in power-play efficiency last season at 16.2 percent.
MacLean said he's up for that challenge and considers having defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson as the power-play quarterback as a huge asset. He likened him to Pittsburgh's Kris Letang and Ottawa's Erik Karlsson.
"The talent is there," MacLean said regarding structuring the PP. "It's just finding a right mixture of players and positioning them."
Overall, MacLean is eager to get back into coaching and to help young players learn the intricacies of the NHL game.
"The one thing the Coyotes have is what every team is always looking for: they have a lot of skill and talent," MacLean said. "With that you can tweak a few areas … These guys are extremely talented and great players, but it's just more about how to play away from the puck at times and how to play with the puck at times, and hopefully holding on to the puck when you have it."
With just 50 days left before training camp, MacLean is jumping into his new job. Being an analyst for NHL Network the past two seasons has given him a working familiarity with the Coyotes and, of course, Tocchet. Still, he is taking a crash course on the team's roster and the strengths and weaknesses of the players.
"You try not to talk about what they can't do, you try to talk about what they can do and help get them in those positions where they can flourish," MacLean said. "That's really what it's about for me."
Drafted by New Jersey sixth overall in the 1983, MacLean played 18 seasons with the Devils, San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Dallas Stars. He notched 413 goals and 429 assists in 1,194 career NHL games. A two-time NHL All-Star (1989, 1991), MacLean won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 1995.
"When you look at his career, he was a hell of a two-way forward so you know he is going to be impactful with forwards," Tocchet said. "Power play is something he will have a lot of input in, and five-on-five systems. He was a head coach at one time and was in the fire himself. He's got a lot of knowledge in those situations."