Reaction to Jacques Lemaire’s retirement
Here’s a rundown of reactions from across the blogosphere on the news of Jacques Lemaire’s retirement, and what this means for the immediate future of the franchise.
John Fischer of In Lou We Trust as an epic (it’s expected with ILWT) post on the firing, opining on the past season with Lemaire at the he helm:
What I felt was the most impressive was how he structured the team so they could continue winning so many games in November and December in spite of all the injuries. Mind you, these were injuries to Paul Martin, Dainius Zubrus, Patrik Elias, etc., etc. - a far cry from just a few guys being day-to-day for a week or so. The Devils didn’t have a fully healthy roster until Martin came back in the first half of March 2010. The Devils have had multiple rookies from Lowell in the lineup and while it wasn’t always pretty, the success still came. Yes, the Devils slumped in the first two months 2010 (and the first week of March) but short of the very elite teams, teams tend to regress to their mean over time anyway.
Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy compares this season to 1998, Lemaire’s last with the Devils (before this season, of course):
We know that the 2010 New Jersey Devils are the 1998 New Jersey Devils, who lost in the first round against the Ottawa Senators. That postseason saw a superstar veteran acquisition, who never fit the system, play well in his final games for the franchise (Doug Gilmour then; Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) potentially now); Devils mainstays underachieve mightily in the playoffs (leading goal-scorer Bobby Holik(notes) earned no points and a minus-4 then; Jamie Langenbrunner’s(notes) one assist and a minus-1 now); and Lemaire leave the bench after the season, after both first-round disasters may have indicated players were quitting on him and his methods.
Jacques Lemaire was the latest New Jersey Devils coach to fall on his sword, stepping down from the bench Monday after a disastrous five-game first-round loss to Philadelphia. He joins a long list of fall guys for Devils GM-for-life, Lou Lamoriello. Lemaire’s departure means the Devils have now been through an incredible six coaches since last winning the Cup in 2003 - one of them being Lou himself.
The question now is, when will Lamoriello take a good look in the mirror? When will Lamoriello ever come out and say, “You know what, folks, this one is on me.” Lamoriello is only too happy to take all the credit when things go well -- and there is no doubt that a lot of things have gone very well for the Devils under his watch.
Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail says that it’s tough to see Lamaire go, but perhaps it’s for the best.
Lemaire was something of an innovator as a coach - because of his particular attention to defensive hockey, something borne of his own playing experience and the fact that he started his coaching career in Switzerland. Sadly, when the Devils won that year, it also introduced the dreaded term ‘neutral zone trap’ into the popular hockey lexicon. Given how the NHL is a copycat league, it became the de rigueur style for the better part of a decade.