By Joe Smith (The Athletic)

MONTREAL — Shortly before the Red Wings were going to officially announce his hiring as the new head coach on June 30, Derek Lalonde made eight or 10 phone calls to give some important people a heads up.

He phoned his dad, Jack, of course, along with his old college coach, his high school coach from his tiny hometown of Brasher Falls, N.Y., and some lifelong friends. But the one person Lalonde wished he could have connected with the most was his mother, Donna, who died last month at age 74.

“She was my biggest fan,” Lalonde said. “She would have absolutely loved this. It was one bittersweet part of that, not being able to share with her, celebrate with her.”

Lalonde, at his first NHL Draft as a head coach, reminisced the other day while wearing his Red Wings-red tie and pin. He was pretty busy, including finalizing his coaching staff with the hiring of assistant Bob Boughner. But after Friday’s second day of the draft wrapped up, he planned to make the one-hour, 15-minute, drive to Brasher Falls for the weekend.

On Sunday, they celebrated his mother’s life.

It wouldn’t have been surprising if a good chunk of the town of 1,000 at some point dropped by the Knights of Columbus hall or the Riverview Bar & Grille, Lalonde’s go-to-dive. Donna was the hairdresser in Brasher Falls, so most everyone knew her. And she’s a major reason Lalonde is coaching an original six franchise today.

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