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Lewis expected to return as Red Wings coach

| Friday, June 4, 2004

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings extended an offer to Dave Lewis on Thursday to return as their coach.

"It's been a very good day," Lewis said late Thursday night.

Lewis' contract expired when the Calgary Flames beat Detroit in the second round of the playoffs last month.

General manager Ken Holland extended the offer Thursday, and Lewis said he wanted to come back. His agent and the Red Wings are working on the length and terms of the contract.

"I expect everything to get done rather quickly," Holland said Thursday. "A deal is not officially agreed to, but I don't expect things to fall apart.

"This is a more involved process than it has been in the past because of all the uncertainty after this season."

The NHL's labor agreement with its players expires this fall, and many expect a long work stoppage after the Stanley Cup finals.

Lewis, a former Red Wings assistant and player, became head coach after Scotty Bowman retired the night Detroit won its 10th Stanley Cup two years ago.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to continue to work with this team, and improve it," Lewis said. "As soon as my agent and the Red Wings figure things out, and I don't foresee any problems with that, we'll go from there."

Lewis led Detroit to a 96-41-21-6 record in two seasons, but won only one playoff series with a postseason mark of 6-10. Both years, the Red Wings lost to the Western Conference champions.

Despite earning 110 points last year and 109 this year, the Red Wings were swept by Anaheim in the first round last year and beaten in six games by Calgary in the second round this year.

"It's been a tough situation to assess because we've had great success in the regular season, and great disappointment in the playoffs the past two years," Holland said. "Dave had not been a head coach at any level prior to becoming the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, but I think he's learned a lot.

"With a second year under his belt as a head coach, I expect that he will grow even more."

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