The Return of Jacques Lemaire

Just a few weeks ago someone tried to tell me that Jacques Lemaire would not be the Devils new head coach. To me, that was as crazy as saying that the reason why Brent Sutter quit was because he was sick of Lou Lamoriello (which a few sports sites published).

I didn’t believe those rumors and rightly so. I only believed that Lemaire would be the new head coach. After all, I had a New Jersey Devil to confirm the exact name with me during his off-season interview. He had heard the same thing that I had about the new coaching situation. It was the only name that came up when we discussed the coaching situation. So why would I think it would be anybody else but Lemaire?

I also believe it is ill faith to say that the reason why a coach quit was because he was ‘sick’ of his boss. That’s like saying Lou is a horrible person and pushed Sutter to lunacy. It’s a mean thing to say about anyone, especially if they don’t know the truth (or are making up rumors).

I honestly believed for months before Sutter made his announcement that he was truly homesick. I actually felt bad for him those months before he made his announcement. There wasn’t anything in his demeanor that would suggest he was ‘sick’ of his boss. He looked like he missed the farm and his family.

Many people were angered by Coach Sutter’s decision, especially after signing with the Calgary Flames a couple of weeks after he called it quits with the Devils. In all honesty, it’s a perfect fit for him. He’s still closer to home and his family than he was when he was in New Jersey. He’s still staying true to his decision to return home. He has to work for a living! He never said he was quitting coaching.

Sutter’s departure may leave a nasty taste in some people’s mouth, but it was for the best. After all, there is a positive side to his departure for both parties.

While everyone sees Sutter’s benefits, the Devils benefit in having Lemaire return to the fold. Lemaire helped lead the Devils to their first Stanley Cup win in 1995. Brian Rolston claims that Lemaire was the best coach he ever had. Something also tells me that Lemaire’s addition to the coaching staff could bring the team a whole lot of luck.

Sutter never got the Devils beyond the first round of the playoffs in either year that he served as head coach. I hate saying that, but that is the harsh reality of the situation. He can help deliver an amazing regular season, but as Zach Parise said just a few weeks ago, it’s the playoffs that are more important. Failing to get past round one in both post-seasons under Sutter’s watch leaves the term “underachieved” rolling off of Parise’s tongue.

There’s always a brighter side to the story that left the Devils territory angered. Sutter’s departure works out best for everyone. Lemaire has returned.

Along with Lemaire’s announcement, the Devils announced that they added Mario Tremblay as assistant coach to the coaching staff. They will be joining Assistant Coach Tommy Albelin and Goaltending Coach Jacques Caron.

“Jacques Lemiare is one of the most respected coaches in the game,” said Lamoriello. “He is a teacher and a communicator, and knows what it takes to have success.

“Mario Tremblay brings years of experience both as a player and coach, and will be a decided asset to our coaching staff.”

The Devils also announced that John MacLean will become the new head coach for the Lowell Devils. MacLean has been behind the Devils bench as an assistant coach since he retired as a player in 2002.

Now that the Devils have announced their new coaching changes, we should be seeing the finalization of the roster.

Brian Gionta, John Madden, Mike Rupp, and Scott Clemmensen have all signed with new teams for the 2009-10 season. Bobby Holik’s retirement and Niclas Havelid’s decision to play in Europe have created several openings on the roster.

Yann Danis (New York Islanders) joins the team as one of the goaltenders, but rumor has it that he’ll have to fight for the backup position. Kevin Weekes has not officially signed any contracts, but we should be hearing something soon.

Brendan Shanahan has also voiced his desire to return for another season with the Devils. Since it’s been said that it is a mutual desire for Shanny to return, expect to hear the announcement that Shanny has re-signed with the Devils at any time now. Travis Zajac’s contract has gone to arbitration. It looks like the Devils will agree to some sort of terms with Zajac when they head to arbitration on July 24th.

Devils have also signed Finnish player Ilkka Pikkarainen who is expected to take a spot on the 3rd or 4th lines. PL3 (aka Pierre-Luc Letourneau LeBlond), Rod Pelley and Nicklas Bergfors are rumored to be making the cut and heading up to the NHL. Devils rookie camp takes place this week.

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