Claude Lemieux recalls ’94 series, likens Keenan to Tortorella and Lemaire to DeBoer
Over at the New York Times, Jeff Z. Klein is in the midst of his outstanding “Remembering 1994" series -- a variety of Q&As with some of the most noteworthy combatants from the 1994 Eastern Conference finals.
One recent interviewee was four-time Stanley Cup champ Claude Lemieux, who figured prominently in the ’94 series and later won the Conn Smythe during New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup run.
Here’s his take on the coaching:
NYT: Do you see any parallels between the 1994 Eastern Conference finals and the current Devils-Rangers series?
LEMIEUX: I think both teams right now are being coached probably like we were coached at the time. In ’94 it was a very intense series, and Mike Keenan, the Rangers’ coach, was a very intense guy. In this series we’ve seen key players not touch the ice for a while — Gaborik, Del Zotto — and it was the same thing with Keenan. Some of the players who were playing half the game all of a sudden were sat down, like Brian Leetch.
Jacques Lemaire was the opposite. He never got too high, never got too low. He was a thinker, and he never let his emotion take over making the right decision. Keenan was much more of an emotional guy, probably like Tortorella is. Peter DeBoer and the Devils’ coaching staff coach a lot like the way we were coached when we were winning.
Eeriest part of the coaching parallels?
In 1994, Keenan benched Leetch -- New York’s best offensive defenseman -- in Game 4, which the Devils won 3-1.
In 2012, Tortorella benched Del Zotto -- New York’s best offensive defenseman -- in Game 4, a game the Devils won 4-1.
And yes, I did watch a lot of X-Files growing up.