Jacques Lemaire's Reason For Leaving The Devils Was So Obvious I Could Have Written It Myself
NJ.com- "Lou is a big part of it. And Babcock is the other part. I don't know Shero and the coach that much," Lemaire told NJ Advance Media. "I know them, but not as close friends, like I know (Lamoriello and Babcock).
"In the type of job I'm doing, it's good that the coach is ready to work with you and the manager knows what you're bringing. I would have had to discuss a lot with (Shero and his coaching staff) and make them believe that what I would be doing would be good for them. It was a lot easier this way. I don't have to convince anyone. Lou knows what I'm doing and what I bring."
Lemaire, who turns 70 on Sept. 7, was named a special assignment coach with the Leafs on Friday. His job will remain virtually the same as it was with the Devils.
"Pretty much. I think I'm going to spend a little more time this year in Toronto than I did in Jersey," Lemaire explained.
Interestingly, it was Babcock who first reached out to Lemaire and not Lamoriello. Lemaire and Babcock coached the Canadian Olympic team to the gold medal in 2010.
"It was Babcock. Then Lou," Lemaire said. "We worked together at the Olympics in Vancouver. He's a guy that looks for information all the time. He wants to be better. He wants to be at the top and he's not afraid to ask different people. He called me numerous times when I was coaching and after I retired.
"It will be interesting. I'm excited. I really excited to work with all these guys. And, because of where the team is right now and the challenge we will have. You need patience. Let's face it, we're going to a team that is among the bottom teams, so there is a lot of work to be done."
And what does he see for the Devils?
"They have a challenge," Lemaire said. "They're rebuilding, but they have a good start with the defensemen that they have. They're all young. For the newcomers, it's nice to have the goalie and defensemen that are young when you're in that rebuilding mode."
Annnnd, yet another leaf falls from the Devils organizational tree. At this point I am just immune to losing players and coaches that I grew up admiring for years. In all honesty, Jacques Lemaire following Lou Lamoriello out the door may be the least surprising news of all the surprising news that Devils fans have had to digest this offseason. Not all that shocking that a 70 year old, that have been teaching the game the same was for decades, is just a wee bit resistant to change. Adapting is a young man's game, and Jacques is still teaching old, yet effective, ways in a new era of hockey. That's all well in good if the Devils were trying to scrap into the playoffs with stellar defense, goaltending, and incredibly low scoring games. It's not exactly the greatest fit when they are trying to get younger (and by default inexperienced), faster , and more open offensively.
The only reason Jacques Lemaire was still even mildly employed by the Devils was because of his relationship with Lou Lamoriello and his familiar style of coaching. I would rather him leave in the offseason under his own volition than decide to stay and have it not work out just a few months into the season. Jacques, much like Lou, will always be a beloved person in New Jersey and amongst Devils fans. A short stint in Toronto to end his career can't change that. It doesn't feel right to watch the mass exodus of Devils greats to Toronto, but it also doesn't feel right seeing the mass exodus of executives and coaches from Pittsburgh/Wilkes Barre to New Jersey. It's going to take a while to get used to, but I think the Devils and Lemaire both knew that a split was inevitable. I wish him no ill will with the Maple Leafs, but I hope he least left the building with a wink and a smile after dropping one of his patented one liners. You'll always be home in Jersey, Jacques.
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