Big Rapids, Mich. - A former Ferris State University men's ice hockey assistant coach has been tabbed to lead one of the Detroit Red Wings' affiliates as Derek Lalonde was appointed Monday as the new head coach of the East Coast Hockey League's (ECHL) Toledo Walleye.
Lalonde will take the reins of the Red Wings' ECHL affiliate following three impressive seasons as the head coach and general manager of the United States Hockey League's (USHL) Green Bay Gamblers in the junior ranks. He compiled a 125-65-14 mark in Green Bay, earning USHL Coach of the Year honors after leading the Gamblers to the Anderson and Clark Cups in 2011-12.
Formerly, he was an assistant coach in the college ranks with five schools from 1995 to 2011, including Ferris State. He worked under FSU head coach Bob Daniels from 2002-06, helping the Bulldogs to the school's first-ever Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Regular-Season Championship in 2002-03.
Another former Bulldog assistant coach and player, Jeff Blashill, is also a head coach in the Red Wings' system with their top affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Grand Rapids Griffins, which he guided to the 2013 AHL Calder Cup Championship.
Joe Napoli, Toledo Walleye president and general manager, said Lalonde was the one who stood out during a very rigorous interview process.
"We were thrilled with the quality of candidates we interviewed, both nationally and internationally," he said.
Recently, Lalonde was also head coach of Team USA's U19 National Team, which captured gold at the World Junior A Challenge in November of 2013. Lalonde was introduced as Toledo's new head coach during a press conference on Monday morning at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.
"We want to build great things here in Toledo, build a culture of success," Lalonde said.
Lalonde's coaching experience included serving as an assistant coach at the University of Denver (2006-2011), Ferris State (2002-2006), Hamilton College (2000-2002), Lebanon Valley College (1998-2000) and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (1995-1998). He played collegiate hockey at Cortland State (N.Y.) from 1991-95 as a goaltender.
Lalonde and his wife, Melissa, have two sons, Alex (8), Luke (5) and a daughter Abby (3). His wife, the former Melissa Eging, served as Ferris State's head women's soccer coach for three seasons from 2003-05.
The Gamblers made the USHL Playoffs each season under Lalonde, including this year when the squad went 30-24-6 before falling to the Indiana Ice – the Clark Cup champion – in a first-round series. In Toledo, the Brasher Falls, N.Y., native will replace Nick Vitucci, who resigned in February of this past season when the Walleye finished 21-44-7 overall.
"Derek came in and continued the winning tradition of the Gamblers," Gamblers president Brendan Bruss said in a news release. "The USHL is a developmental league not only for players, but coaches as well. We wish him nothing but the best as he takes this next step in his career."
Former Ferris State Assistant Derek Lalonde Tabbed To Lead Detroit Red Wings' ECHL Affiliate