Former Red Wings coach Lewis takes over Bruins

Updated: June 29, 2006, 6:00 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- The last time Dave Lewis took over an NHL franchise, it was the defending Stanley Cup champion.

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Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli's "new, fresh culture" didn't extend to his coaching staff, writes E.J. Hradek. If it had, he wouldn't have left a good soldier like Mike Sullivan twisting in the wind for some three weeks.

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This time, Lewis will head up a team of young players who finished last in the Northeast Division.

Lewis was introduced Thursday as the new head coach of the Boston Bruins, succeeding Mike Sullivan, who was fired earlier this week. Lewis has a reputation for being a motivator, a skill that could help the young team.

"Once you put the jersey on, there's no place to hide. Everybody watches you once you step on the ice. That's the one great thing about this sport," Lewis said.

"If you say you're a great skill player, show me. If you're a character guy, show me. If you're a tough guy, show me," Lewis said.

Lewis signed a four-year deal with the Bruins. The terms weren't disclosed.

The Bruins also announced they wouldn't retain assistants Wayne Cashman and Norm Maciver. Incoming general manager Peter Chiarelli said no decisions on Lewis' staff had been made.

Lewis spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach for the Red Wings before succeeding Scotty Bowman as head coach after they won their third Stanley Cup in six years in 2001-2002. He held the job for two seasons, but his contract wasn't renewed in June 2005 and stayed with Detroit as a scout.

In 17 seasons, Lewis helped coach two of the top goal scorers in NHL history: Steve Yzerman, ranked seventh with 692 goals, and Brendan Shanahan, ranked 15th with 598 goals.

"If you say you're a great skill player, show me. If you're a character guy, show me. If you're a tough guy, show me."
Bruins coach Dave Lewis

With the Bruins, Lewis' top career goal scorer is Glen Murray, with 292. And Boston hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1972. But Lewis said the Bruins have a foundation of good young players.

"I think there's a strong nucleus there of high skill," he said.

Lewis said a young team might need more guidance about dealing with the daily rigors of the NHL. But he said once the game starts, "My expectations are the same."

"When you get on the ice, I expect you to perform at the highest level," he said.

Lewis was introduced by Chiarelli, who is scheduled to officially take over as general manager on July 15 after completing his duties as assistant GM of the Ottawa Senators.

Chiarelli said he chose Lewis after interviewing five candidates, including Sullivan. Chiarelli touted the decades of experience Lewis brings to the job and described Lewis as a "highly motivated, team focused, NHL coach."

"We shared many common objectives with the ultimate goal of having this team return to its winning tradition," he said.

Defenseman Paul Mara, obtained from Phoenix last Monday for defenseman Nick Boynton, said he's heard nothing but good things about Lewis.

"He's real knowledgeable of the game, respects his players and he's really a players' coach," he said. "That's the kind of coach a player wants to play for, a guy who respects you and wants the best for you and out of you."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press