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DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings have hired Derek Lalonde to coach their rebuilding team, hoping the two-time Stanley Cup-winning assistant can make all the right moves to make the franchise relevant again.

Lalonde spent the past four years on Jon Cooper’s staff with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a stretch that included championships in 2020 and ’21 and, most recently, a third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

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“He has proven himself as an excellent coach at every level and has spent the last four seasons in the National Hockey League as part of a very successful program in Tampa Bay,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “We feel he is ready to take the next step in his career as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.”

Yzerman was GM of the Lightning when he promoted Cooper to his first NHL head-coaching job in 2013. It’s the first time an active assistant of Cooper’s has jumped to a head job in the NHL.

“I’m ready to get to work with our group,” Lalonde said in a statement. “There’s a very bright future ahead in Detroit.”

Lalonde, 49, like Cooper won a United States Hockey League title with the Green Bay Gamblers. He coached in the ECHL and American Hockey League before joining the Lightning.

After a two-month search, Lalonde replaces Jeff Blashill, who did not have the team option on his contract picked up after seven seasons. Blashill had a .447 points percentage, the second-worst in the league over that time — not counting the debut season of the expansion Seattle Kraken.

Yzerman didn’t reveal much when he spoke to reporters early in the search, but he did say that being familiar with the new man in charge would be a plus.

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“Derek has an impressive resume, particularly the work he’s done with young players and prospects throughout his career,” president and CEO Chris Ilitch said in a statement. “We’re excited to have him leading the charge behind the Red Wings bench. I’d also like to commend Steve and his staff for conducting a very thorough and detailed search process”

Detroit has not earned a spot in the playoffs for six consecutive years after being in 25 straight postseasons and winning the Stanley Cup four times. But Lalonde does have some players potentially capable of leading a turnaround.

Veterans Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana are proven players up front, and Lucas Raymond, who was also a standout rookie last season, is a promising forward joining them in the lineup.

Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider is set to anchor the defense for years to come, filling a void that has not been addressed since Nicklas Lidstrom retired a decade ago.

Yzerman, a Hall of Fame player with the Red Wings, has a hand-picked coach for the first time with the once-proud franchise he’s leading.

After drafting and acquiring talent to turn Tampa Bay into a two-time champion and perennial contender, Yzerman has consistently said it will take time to make Detroit a winner again and has refused to put timelines on the rebuild.

Lalonde, as quickly as he can, will shoot to aim to address the Red Wings’ shortcomings next season with relative stability after Blashill coached in recent years with job uncertainty.

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Eduardo Escobar doesnt think hell need trip to IL

After being abruptly pulled from Friday night’s game with tightness in his left side, Eduardo Escobar finally explained what happened.

“I really felt it when I was swinging,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “After those couple ground balls at third I felt kind of a pull. I went into the cage and took a couple swings to see if maybe it would loosen up a little bit. But, it started to feel worse at that point. In order to not miss the rest of the year and make it a longer stint where I was away, I told the trainers. They did an MRI, and we’ve been treating it.”

The MRI came back clean, which leads Escobar to believe that a stint on the injured list will not be necessary. On Sunday, he was held out of the lineup for the second straight day, though. Luis Guillorme got his 19th start of the season at third base. If there’s another emergency, Escobar believes he could play, just in a limited capacity.

“I think I could run, and go out on the field and I think I could hit from the left-handed side,” he said with the help of translator Alan Suriel. “But from the right-handed side, I probably can’t right now. But Buck knows that whatever he needs me to do, I’m willing to do.”

Knowing how delicate the oblique is, and where the team is both in their schedule and the standings, they’re going to slow-play Escobar’s return to avoid causing any further issues.

“I was scared because an oblique is not like a hamstring, where it’s a certain amount of time that you’ll be out,” Escobar said. “With an oblique it may be three months. I’ve heard stories from other players who have gone through it. It can be a while to recover. That’s not what I wanted. When you mess up your oblique, it’s a really bad injury.”

The switch-hitting third baseman insists that he’s felt better and better every day. He said the oblique barks a bit when he runs, in addition to the issues when he tries to bat righty. That’s been his best side for his entire MLB career. When a lefty’s on the mound and he’s in the right-handed batter’s box, Escobar has a .275/.319/.461 slash line (.780 OPS). When things are reversed, he’s at .244/.301/.419 (.720 OPS). While the injury may sap him of his most valuable skill, Escobar is just glad that it’s not worse.

“I was talking to Guillorme who’s also had an injury like that, and it makes it difficult to do a lot of things,” Escobar retold. “Sometimes you can’t go to the bathroom, sometimes you can’t even go to sleep because you feel it on that side.”

His departure from Friday night’s game — coupled with Jeff McNeil getting his hand stepped on and also having to leave — meant Mark Canha had to play third base for the first time since 2016. Escobar offered a take on his teammate’s foray at an unfamiliar spot.

“At first I was surprised that he was out there,” Escobar said. “But he really made me proud. At the same time, we’re professionals. People think it’s funny that he was out there, but it’s not really a joke. We’re the type of team that will fill in for anybody if we need to. All year, we’ve really backed each other up and supported each other. That’s what he did there.”

BRIDGE OVER NOT-SO-TROUBLED WATERS

Middle relief has become a sort of topic du jour around Citi Field.

There are no words to adequately describe how good Edwin Diaz has been in the ninth inning. Adam Ottavino has proven himself to be a consummate eighth-inning setup man. Whoever gets those outs before Ottavino and Diaz, after the starter, is typically the most important decision Buck Showalter makes on a given night. Before Sunday’s game, he was asked about that bridge to the back end of the bullpen.

“Bridge, I guess that’s appropriate, talking about bridges here,” Showalter quipped. “I’ve been able to pass the load around, use different guys on given nights. That’s unusual. But right now, we’ve got multiple people that can defend themselves against left and right.”

Since July 1, Trevor Williams has been sensational as the long relief man. Williams has pitched 11 innings in that span without giving up an earned run. Joely Rodriguez, the southpaw who’s being used less and less often, has a 6.00 ERA in his nine innings since the start of July. Mychal Givens had a really bad start to his Met career, giving up five earned runs in his first game, but he’s settled down in his four outings since. Trevor May also looks promising, striking out seven batters in his four innings since coming off the IL.

Showalter noted that when you look at some of his right-handed relievers’ splits, maybe the Mets do have a lefty beater that many think they’ve needed all season. But, as with a huge portion of Major League Baseball in general, it always comes back to starting pitching.

“Starters make the chain not too long,” Showalter explained. “[When] you’ve [only] gotta get nine outs, it also shortens the amount of time you have to use them, which allows them to pitch again the next day or shortly thereafter.”

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