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Schwei On Ice: The Devils’ Coaching Carousel

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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By John Schweibacher
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The Devils will finish off the calendar year with the man who began 2010 behind their bench, Jacques Lemaire, who took over for John MacLean on an interim basis last week.

This is Lemaire’s 3rd stint as New Jersey’s head coach, the first in Devils’ history to take over on three separate occasions and the 9h in-season replacement since the club moved to New Jersey in 1982.

On all but two of the occasions in which the Devils have changed coaches during the season the club has posted a better regular season record under the new coach:

Season – New Coach – Record Before – Record After

· 1983-84 – Tom McVie – 2-18-0 4pts .100 – 15-38-7 37pts .308

· 1987-88 – Jim Schoenfeld – 21-24-5 47pts .470 – 17-12-1 35pts .583

· 1989-90 –  John Cuniff  – 6-6-2 14pts .500 – 31-28-8 70pts .523

· 1990-91 – Tom McVie – 28-28-11 67pts  .500 4 –5-4 12pts .462

· 1999-00 – Larry Robinson – 41-25-8 90pts .608 –  4-4-0 8pts .500

· 2001-02 – Kevin Constantine – 21-23-7 49pts .480 – 20-9-2 42pts .677

· 2005-06 – Lou Lamoriello – 14-13-5 .516 33pts – 32-14-4 68pts .680

· 2006-07 – Lou Lamoriello – 47-24-8 102pts .646 – 2-0-1 5pts .833

Other than 1983-84, the Devils reached the playoffs in every one of the seasons in which they changed coaches and in 2000, under Larry Robinson who took over for Robbie Ftorek, the Devils went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Lemaire is just the 4th head coach/manager among the current teams in NY/NJ Pro Sports history to have at least three separate stints with the same team. Billy Martin managed the New York Yankees five different times, Emile Francis coached the New York Rangers on three separate occasions and Al Arbour officially led the New York Islanders three times, including a one-game stint in 2007 which gave him exactly 1,500 behind the Isles bench.

John MacLean’s brief tenure as coach of the New Jersey Devils lands him on this dubious list; managers/coaches of the current NY/NJ area teams who lasted less than one full season in a stint that began at the start of that same regular season:

Coach/Manager – Team – Season – Games – Record

· Frank Boucher – NY Rangers – 1953-54 – 40 – 14-20-6

· Muzz Patrick – NY Rangers – 1962-63 – 34 – 11-19-4

· Bernie Geoffrion – NY Rangers – 1968-69 – 43 – 22-18-3

· Phil Goyette –  NY Islanders – 1972-73 – 48 – 6-38-4

· Larry Popein – NY Rangers  – 1973-74 – 41 – 18-14-9

· Ron Stewart – NY Rangers – 1975-76 – 39 – 15-20-4

· Lou Holtz – NY Jets – 1976 – 13 – 3-10

· Billy Martin – NY Yankees – 1988 – 68 – 40-28

· Dallas Green – NY Yankees – 1989 – 121 – 56-65

· Don Nelson – NY Knicks – 1995-96 – 59 – 34-25

· Bryan Trottier – NY Rangers – 2002-03 – 54 – 21-26-7

· Larry Robinson – NJ Devils – 2005-06 – 32 – 14-13-5

· Claude Julien – NJ Devils – 2006-07 – 79 – 41-25-8

· John MacLean – NJ Devils – 2010-11 – 33 – 9-22-2

One year ago, the Devils completed the calendar year of 2009 with the best overall record in the NHL, going 58-25-2 for 118 points and a point percentage of .694 if you combined the end of the 2008-09 season and the beginning of the 2009-10 campaign. Heading into the final week of 2010, New Jersey has fallen almost all the way to the bottom of the NHL over these past 12 months:

2009 Calendar Year Top 5 GP W-L-OTL Pts Pct

· New Jersey 85 58-25-2 118 .694

· San Jose 86 51-22-13 115 .669

· Washington 84 50-23-11 111 .661

· Chicago 88 53-27-8 114 .648

· Pittsburgh 86 52-28-6 110 .640

2010 Calendar Year Bottom 5 GP W-L-OTL Pts Pct*

· Edmonton 75 23-42-10 56 .373

· New Jersey 78 29-41-8 64 .410

· NY Islanders 74 27-38-9 63 .426

· Toronto 75 29-37-9 67 .446

· Calgary 79 33-38-8 72 .468

*Through games of December 27th.

The Devils host the Rangers Tuesday night at Prudential Center. New York has taken both of the meetings between the cross-river rivals so far this season; a 3-1 win back on October 24th at Madison Square Garden and a 3-0 victory at The Rock on November 5th.

The Thrashers and Devils meet for the second time this season Friday night in Newark. Atlanta blew out New Jersey, 7-1, two weeks ago at Philips Arena, the most lopsided Tharshers win over the Devils since Atlanta joined the NHL in 1999-00.

New Jersey plays its first game of 2011 Saturday night against the Hurricanes in Carolina. The Devils and ‘Canes have yet to play this season and the remaining three contests between the two clubs will all take place in an 11-day span in February.

This will be the first time in franchise history that the Devils play games on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day during the same season. Neither date has been kind to New Jersey in the past; the Devils have gone 2-9-0 all-time on December 31st and just 2-4-2 on January 1st.

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Minus: Martin Brodeur. 4-1 defeat against Maple Leafs gave Brodeur the first five-game regular-season losing streak of his career.

Plus: Rod Pelley. Scores his 1st goal of the season in loss to Toronto and it comes exactly one year to the date of his last NHL goal.

Minus: December Blues. Devils 1-10-0 this month, their worst in a month with at least 10 games played since January of 1986 when New Jersey went 2-11-1.

pixy Schwei On Ice: The Devils Coaching Carousel