The long road for John MacLean has finally led him to his dream: A chance to coach in the NHL on the team where it all began, the New Jersey Devils.
It's the first time a former Devil will be the head coach in New Jersey -- a sign that this one-time newbie in the tri-state area has marked the test of time.
Mac did it the right way. He's prepared for this for seven seasons, six as a Devils assistant for six different head coaches and a season in Lowell as a head coach in the AHL. His time is now. You wonder if the Devils had gone another way whether Mac would have just packed his bags and moved on.
The Devils have gone through coaches like Lady Gaga has gone through bleach. So the fact that Johnny Mac is 45 and a major part of the history of this organization may make him the head coach who hangs around awhile. Maybe this is the last coach Lou Lamoriello will ever hire.
MacLean now takes the reins of a team that has not seen the second round in three years. And has gone the longest in franchise history without a conference finals appearance. He has lots of work to do.
It's also a chance for No. 15 to have his Devils career come full circle. He's the Devils all-time leading scorer. He scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history when he beat Darren Pang and the Blackhawks to get the Devils in the postseason for the first time ever in 1988. And he won a Cup in 1995 -- though he had a falling out with the team a few years later and was traded to San Jose, then committed what's considered a Devils' biggest sin, namely playing for the New York Rangers.
Johnny Mac is now in the driver's seat. How bumpy will the ride be? We'll have to wait and see.