The first few weeks of the 2023-24 NHL season are in the books and a few surprises have taken hockey fans by storm early in the season. Quite possibly, none of those surprises surpasses what the Detroit Red Wings have been up to to start the campaign.

Detroit finished October 6-3, pacing with some of the best teams in the league. The Red Wings are averaging four goals per game and appear to have a real shot at making some noise in the Atlantic Division this year.

While the team was expected to improve this season, this red-hot start for the Red Wings wasn't what most hockey fans across the nation expected. But Detroit fans would likely be quick to tell you that the great start the Red Wings are enjoying is in large part because of coach Derek Lalonde.

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Lalonde took over a proud franchise last year that has failed to make the playoffs since 2016. At 35-37, the Red Wings finished just three games better than their 2021 mark, but the vibe around the team had clearly changed.

It's not too unlike what happened with the Detroit Lions under Dan Campbell. I guess that's why it should come as no surprise that, like Campbell, Lalonde is quickly becoming one of the most respected coaches in the NHL among fans.

Meanwhile, Detroit sports fans are starting to feel a bit spoiled with the recent success and resurgence of their teams.

According to a study from Betway, Lalonde receives positive endorsement from fans at a fairly high clip on social media. There's still a good amount of room for improvement, as among all head coaches in the NHL, Lalonde 15th-highest percentage of positive social media posts, but the 19.5% is still quite high comparatively. After all, Jay Woodcraft of the Edmonton Oilers only has 30% of social posts viewing him in a positive light, and that's the highest percentage.

In the Atlantic Division, three coaches get higher endorsements than Lalonde according to the study. Buffalo Sabres coach Don Granato has the second-highest percentage at 27.6%, Jim Montgomery of the Boston Bruins is just outside the top five at 24.8% while Martin St. Louis for the Montreal Canadiens rounds out the top 10 at 21%.

Meanwhile, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe has the third-worst percentage at 12.4%.

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Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison

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