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Sutter Selects Familiar Faces for Devs' Staff

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

As an assistant under Brent Sutter, Robinson will look to add to his already impressive Cup count. –
When head coach Brent Sutter makes his NHL debut behind the Devils' bench this October, he'll be accompanied by a coaching staff that knows what it takes to win in New Jersey.

The team announced on Wednesday that Larry Robinson, John MacLean and Tommy Albelin will join Sutter's staff as assistants, with Jacques Caron coming aboard once again as goaltending coach.

Sutter, named to the head coaching post on July 13 by Devils' CEO/President/GM Lou Lamoriello, said via conference call that he felt fortunate to have been able to assemble this group from within the organization.

What Sutter will have by his side as the team heads into its inaugural season at Prudential Center is a crew that has a combined 29 years of NHL coaching experience and nine Stanley Cups as members of the Devils.

"I told Lou this right from the start, that if we can keep it inside the organization, let's keep it there, because they know what the front of that jersey's all about," Sutter said. "And if we have those people why would we have to go outside? I'm very excited about the staff that we've named."

Robinson will enter his 11th season as a part of the team's hockey operations staff. The hall-of-fame defenseman was the head coach for the Devils' 2000 Stanley Cup Championship team, and had previously served as both an assistant coach and a special assignment coach with the organization.

Robinson's loaded resume, coupled with the relationship that he and Sutter developed while playing together for Team Canada in the Canada Cup tournament, made the choice a lot easier for New Jersey's new bench boss.

"I know him as a person and I know how respected he is inside the dressing room with everybody, and he, to me, is a great piece of the pie on this staff," Sutter said. "I was excited when he committed to doing this, just because of the knowledge that he has of the game. The head coaching experience and all the success he's had, I think it's a tremendous asset to have on your staff."

MacLean, the all-time franchise leader in goals and points, returns for his sixth season as a Devils assistant coach. To Sutter, there was perhaps no one else in hockey who knows more about what it means to be a Devil.

"I am thrilled and honored to have Johnny come back and be an assistant coach," Sutter said. "He bleeds New Jersey Devils. He played the game the way it needed to be played. Every night he put it all out there, and again he's someone that's huge for this staff."

Caron, the only coach to have been with the Devils for all three of their Stanley Cup Championships, will return for his 15th season as goaltending coach, making the only new face that of Albelin's. This will be the first career pro coaching assignment for the former defenseman.

Albelin played 539 games with the Devils, hoisting the Stanley Cup in both 1995 and 2003. He spent last season as a member of the Devils' Alumni Association, but Sutter said Albelin is well-suited for his new role.

"I wanted a guy that can be upstairs during the games, and to have someone like that you need someone with a real good knowledge of the game," said Sutter. "We needed someone that can come down and communicate things between periods to the staff and be a teacher on the ice during practice. I think Tommy fits all those needs perfectly, as far as what we were looking for."

Sutter has already said he expects a complete commitment from his players and demands that they play for the crest on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back. To hear him explain the thinking behind Wednesday's appointments, it was obvious that he held the bar just as high when he made the final decisions on who he would bring into the Devils' fold.

But when it came down to picking Robinson, MacLean, Albelin, and Caron, Sutter reiterated that nothing pleased him more than discovering all the right tools for the job in his own backyard.

"You need to have good people," he said. "For me, they need to have a knowledge of the league. They have to be very loyal, and they need to work very hard. They have to do whatever they can to make the team better. With these gentlemen, we know we've accomplished that."
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