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Lamoriello On The Fan: Changes Had To Be Made

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(Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (WFAN/AP) — Facing the prospect of missing the playoff for the first time since 1997, the New Jersey Devils fired rookie coach John MacLean on Thursday and brought back the firm hand of Jacques Lemaire to try to salvage the season.

LISTEN: Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks with WFAN’s Ed Coleman

The Devils have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NHL this season. New Jersey is tied with the New York Islanders for the fewest points in the league with 20 in 33 games (9-22-2). Their 59 goals also are the fewest.

The 65-year-old Lemaire is expected to coach the team Thursday night against the Islanders.

“It’s a decision that certainly is not one that’s pleasant or we feel good about,” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “But it’s a decision that, in my opinion, had to be made.”

Lamoriello made the decision two days after the Devils dropped a 5-1 decision to Washington for their third straight loss and eighth in nine games this month. The Devils have been outscored 15-3 in the last three games.

“I take responsibility for waiting and trying to get it to where it should have been,” Lamoriello said. “Under no set of circumstances should all of this responsibility be placed on (MacLean). The responsibility lies on the players and myself for what couldn’t be done. Unfortunately, we just weren’t getting it done.”

A perennial contender in the Eastern Conference, the Devils were expected to be among the leaders again this season after re-signing All-Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100 million contract in the offseason.

Kovalchuk, however, has been a major disappointment with eight goals in 32 games. He was even benched a game by MacLean for undisclosed reasons.

While saying the firing was unfortunate, Kovalchuk expected the move.

“The team’s struggling and something had to happen,” he said. “I’m sure Johnny will be back somewhere in some place. It’s sad that it didn’t work out for him. That’s the reality of this business.”

Goaltender Martin Brodeur was looking forward to working with Lemaire for a third time. Lemaire led the team to its first Stanley Cup title in 1995 and returned for a second stint last season before retiring.

“Jacques has the winning resume with him and he knows what has to be done to turn this around,” Brodeur said. “This has to be a wake-up call for all of us. Jacques is able to get the best out of guys. He’s a familiar face, so the adjustment won’t be that bad. It will take us a lot less time to get accustomed to him. I’m sure that’s what Lou is looking for, someone who can turn this around quickly.”

Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner has had an up-and-down relationship with Lemaire, who retired after the Devils were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

“We should be better and everyone knows that,” Langenbrunner said. “It’s a new situation and in a way, it’s a chance to start over, start the season all over a little. Maybe this will re-energize everyone a little bit. We’ll see. We respect him as a coach. He’s a very smart hockey man. He’s always done what’s best for the team.”

Injuries to high-scoring left wing Zach Parise (knee), Brodeur (elbow) and others in the supporting cast have hurt the Devils, who were forced to play a couple of games early this season with less than 18 skaters because they were up against the NHL’s salary cap.

Brodeur is back in the lineup, but Parise is not expected back until February.

Not only is the goal-scoring down but the defense has struggled. Considered among the best in the league for more than 15 years, it has allowed 103 goals to rank in the bottom third.

“He’s a very good defensive coach and it doesn’t hurt that we’re all familiar with him,” Langenbrunner said of Lemaire. “The transition should be easier. He has his system and the way he wants the game to be played. He’s drawn the blueprint of what success has meant to this organization.”

One of the Devils’ all-time top scorers, MacLean coached the franchise’s top minor league team at Lowell (AHL) before replacing Lemaire this season. He had been a Devils assistant coach for seven years before going to Lowell.

“The blame has to fall some place,” forward David Clarkson said. “It’s a shame because we didn’t give Johnny a fair shake. I feel bad for him, especially at this time of year. I think we all have to take this as a kick in the butt to get going. We still have a lot of hockey to play.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2010
DEVILS NAME JACQUES LEMAIRE HEAD COACH
Will Step Behind the Bench for Third Time Through Remainder of Season
Newark, NJ – Jacques Lemaire, who coached the Devils to its first of three Stanley Cup Championships
in 1995, will return behind the team’s bench tonight, replacing John MacLean. He will coach New Jersey
for the remainder of the season, joining a staff that includes Assistant Coaches Larry Robinson and
Adam Oates, and Goaltending Coach Chris Terreri. Lemaire was serving the organization as special
assignment coach. MacLean will remain with the club in a to-be-determined role. The announcement
was made by Devils’ President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello.
“Making a coaching change is always a difficult decision,” said Lamoriello. “When that change involves
a member of the Devils’ family, it becomes even more difficult. Today’s decision should not be looked
upon as a reflection of John MacLean’s coaching ability. The entire organization, including, myself takes
responsibility for our current record.”
Lemaire, 65, is named Devils’ head coach for the third time after stepping down from the position April
26, 2010. In 2009-10, he led the club to a 48-27-7=103pt (.628) mark, and its second straight Atlantic
Division title. Lemaire’s 460 games coached, 247 wins, 61 playoff games, and 35 playoff victories are all
tops in franchise history. He served as associate coach for Gold Medal-winning Team Canada at the 2010
Olympic Winter Games. Lemaire rejoined the organization on July 13, 2009 after serving as head coach
of the Wild for nine seasons, compiling a 293-255-108=694pt (.529) mark in 656 regular-season games. In
2002-03, he led the Wild to the Western Conference Finals while capturing his second career Jack Adams
Award as the league’s top coach.
As head coach of the Devils for five seasons from 1993-94 through 1997-98, he guided the squad to a 199-
122-57=455pt (.602) mark in 378 regular-season games, and a 34-22 (.607) record in 56 playoff contests
until stepping down May 8, 1998. Including the 1995 Stanley Cup Championship, Lemaire led the team
to four post-season appearances, and guided it to the Eastern Conference’s best record in both 1996-97
(45-23-14=104pts) and 1997-98 (48-23-11=107pts). In his first season behind the team’s bench, New Jersey
advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1988, while he won the Adams
Award for the first time. Lemaire was originally named the organization’s eighth coach on June 28, 1993.
Prior to joining the Devils, Lemaire served the Canadiens’ Hockey Operations Department for eight
seasons from 1985-86 through 1992-93. He held the title of assistant to the managing director for seven of
those eight seasons, spending the 1988-89 season as managing director of the Verdun Junior Canadiens
(QMJHL). Lemaire also had dual titles as managing director of Fredericton (AHL) for two seasons in
1991-92 and 1992-93, as well as director of hockey operations for three seasons from 1985-86 through
1987-88. He was named Montreal’s head coach on February 24, 1984, and voluntarily stepped down
following the 1984-85 season. During that time, Lemaire led the club to the Wales Conference Finals in
1984, and a first-place Adams Division finish in 1984-85.
A native of LaSalle, Que., he began his coaching career in 1979 as player/coach of HC Sierre in
Switzerland. Lemaire returned to North America in 1981 as an assistant coach with SUNY Plattsburgh.
In 1982-83, he was named head coach of the QMJHL’s expansion franchise in Longueuil, leading the club
to the league finals in its inaugural season.
Lemaire was born September 7, 1945, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in June 1984,
following a 12-season NHL playing career (1967-88 through 1978-79) with Montreal. During that time,
he was a member of eight Stanley Cup Championship teams, including four straight from 1975-76
through 1978-79, recording the Cup-clinching goal in 1977. Lemaire appeared in both the 1969-70 and
1972-73 NHL All-Star Games, recording a career-high 44 goals and 95 points in 1972-73. As a member of
Montreal’s staff, he also won Stanley Cup Championships during the 1985-86 and 1992-93 seasons.
Jacques and his wife, Mychele, have two sons, Patrice and Danyk, and one daughter, Magalie, as well as
five grandchildren, Jeremy, Xavier, Zachary, Emma, and Kara.
-
COACHING RECORD
REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
YEAR TEAM LEAGUE GC W L O/T PTS PCG GC W L PCT
1980-81 HC Sierre Swi.-2 – – – – – – – – – -
1981-82 HC Sierre Swi.-2 – – – – – – – – – -
1982-83 Longueuil QMJHL 70 37 29 4 78 .557 15 8 7 .533
1983-84 Montreal NHL 17 7 10 0 14 .412 15 9 6 .600
1984-85 Montreal NHL 80 41 27 12 94 .588 12 6 6 .500
1993-94 DEVILS NHL 84 47 25 12 106 .631 20 11 9 .550
1994-95 DEVILS NHL 48 22 18 8 52 .542 20 16 4 .800
1995-96 DEVILS NHL 82 37 33 12 86 .524 – – – -
1996-97 DEVILS NHL 82 45 23 14 104 .634 10 5 5 .500
1997-98 DEVILS NHL 82 48 23 11 107 .652 6 2 4 .333
2000-01 Minnesota NHL 82 25 39 18 68 .415 – – – -
2001-02 Minnesota NHL 82 26 35 21 73 .445 – – – -
2002-03 Minnesota NHL 82 42 29 11 95 .579 18 8 10 .444
2003-04 Minnesota NHL 82 30 29 23 83 .506 – – – -
2005-06 Minnesota NHL 82 38 36 8 84 .512 – – – -
2006-07 Minnesota NHL 82 38 26 8 104 .634 5 1 4 .200
2007-08 Minnesota NHL 82 44 28 10 98 .598 6 2 4 .333
2008-09 Minnesota NHL 82 40 33 9 89 .543 – – – -
2009-10 DEVILS NHL 82 48 27 7 103 .628 5 1 4 .200
DEVILS TOTALS 460 247 149 64 558 .607 61 35 26 .574
NHL TOTALS 1213 588 441 184 1360 .561 117 61 56 .521
Jack Adams Award (1994, 2003)
PLAYING RECORD
REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
YEAR TEAM LEAGUE GP G A PTS PIM GP G A PTS PIM
1962-63 Lachine QJHL 42 41 63 *104 0 – – – – -
1963-64 Montreal Jr. OHA 42 25 30 55 17 17 10 6 16 4
1964-65 Montreal Jr. OHA 56 25 47 72 52 7 1 5 6 0
Quebec AHL 1 0 0 0 0 – – – – -
1965-66 Montreal Jr. OHA 48 41 52 93 69 10 11 2 13 14
1966-67 Houston CPHL 69 19 30 49 19 6 0 1 1 0
1967-68 Montreal NHL 69 22 20 42 16 13 7 6 13 6
1968-69 Montreal NHL 75 29 34 63 29 14 4 2 6 6
1969-70 Montreal NHL 69 32 28 60 16 – – – – -
1970-71 Montreal NHL 78 28 28 56 18 20 9 10 19 17
1971-72 Montreal NHL 77 32 49 81 26 6 2 1 3 2
1972-73 Montreal NHL 77 44 51 95 16 17 7 13 20 2
1973-74 Montreal NHL 66 29 38 67 10 6 0 4 4 2
1974-75 Montreal NHL 80 36 56 92 20 11 5 7 12 4
1975-76 Montreal NHL 61 20 32 52 20 13 3 3 6 2
1976-77 Montreal NHL 75 34 41 75 22 14 7 12 19 6
1977-78 Montreal NHL 76 36 61 97 14 15 6 8 14 10
1978-79 Montreal NHL 50 24 31 55 10 15 *11 12 *23 6
1979-80 HC Sierre Swi.-2 28 29 16 45 – – – – – -
1980-81 HC Sierre Swi.-2 12 13 13 26 – – – – – -
NHL TOTALS 853 366 469 835 217 145 61 78 139 63
Played in NHL All-Star Game (1970, 1973) • Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame (1984)
*Led League

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