Dec 23, 2010, 11:43 AM EDT
The Devils firing of John MacLean didn’t come as too big a surprise to those following their situation. The team was bad, they were getting blown out, and they weren’t a threat to turn it around. The choice of having once-retired former coach Jacques Lemaire take over on an interim basis is a curious one though.
(Update: it certainly didn’t produce immediate results, as the Devils were humbled by the almost-as-bad Islanders by a score of 5-1 on Thursday.)
When MacLean was brought in, it was believed he’d get the Devils to slowly transition into a more attack-oriented team. A team that started off the year with major offensive weapons like Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise and being supported by guys like Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, and Jason Arnott can make it so scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem. Instead, the team lost Parise to injury and it turned them into a one star team. Factor in numerous injuries to the defense and losing Martin Brodeur for up to ten games and you’ve got yourself a nightmare scenario, one that MacLean couldn’t figure out how to juggle correctly.
With Lemaire in charge once again, the Devils will go back to Lemaire’s trusty defensively-oriented system that relies heavily upon counter-attacking and creating turnovers in the neutral zone while preventing scoring opportunities from even developing by opponents. There’s also another motivation at work here.
What GM Lou Lamoriello is doing by having Lemaire take over is making accountability in all areas of the game a must and for the Devils, taking care of their own end has become as much of a problem as scoring goals has. Sure the Devils are 30th out of 30 teams in scoring, but they’re also 21st in goals allowed. Being poor defensively is unfamiliar territory for any Devils team and something that had to be driving Lamoriello nuts. Lemaire will fix that the way he knows he can the fastest by falling back on his trusty system.
But what of team captain Jamie Langenbrunner? Last season, Langenbrunner and Lemaire had their fair share of issues with each other and ultimately concluded with Langenbrunner brushing off the press when asked about their relationship. Having a team captain and a coach not getting along makes for a really awkward locker room.
With Lemaire coming back into the fold once again, is this Lamoriello’s way of pushing his captain’s buttons to get him to inspire the guys in the room or is it just a fact of the matter that’s brushed aside because Lemaire is Lou’s guy and that’s that? We’re betting on the latter with maybe a touch of the former. Either way, Langenbrunner has to feel like Lamoriello put a half-ton of coal in his stocking this year.
As always with the Devils, a coaching change comes with a certain amount of drama and this is no different. How this plays out the rest of the way for the team should prove to be fascinating to watch because if even Lemaire can’t get this crew turned around to at least being a more competitive team, someone’s going to have to answer to owner Jeff Vanderbeek and Lou Lamoriello is the guy that put together this salary cap-era disaster of a roster.
May 24, 2013, 8:50 PM EDT
You be the judge.
May 24, 2013, 8:41 PM EDT
May 24, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
Including one of his coaching rivals from the QMJHL.
May 24, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT
Dan Bylsma sticking with the same lineup.
May 24, 2013, 6:05 PM EDT
Kevin Prendergast (pictured) and longtime NHL netminder Ron Tugnutt were let go.
May 24, 2013, 5:08 PM EDT
“The NHL remains committed to securing the Coyotes’ future in Glendale under new ownership, and we believe Don’s long-term agreement evidences that he is equally committed,” said the deputy commish.
May 24, 2013, 4:28 PM EDT
He’s missed the entire series with a broken hand.
May 24, 2013, 4:27 PM EDT
Craig MacTavish has a few things he’d like in return.
May 24, 2013, 3:20 PM EDT
“Hopefully, we’ll find that chemistry,” says Spezza.
May 24, 2013, 3:14 PM EDT
Just a few days after turfing assistant coach Peter Horachek.
May 24, 2013, 2:51 PM EDT
Aside from, you know, facing elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
May 24, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT
Chin up, rookie.
May 24, 2013, 2:11 PM EDT
Say hello to Curtis McElhinney.
May 24, 2013, 2:08 PM EDT
Torts not expected to make any lineup changes.
May 24, 2013, 1:51 PM EDT
Rangers’ blueliner saw plenty of action in Game 4, though.
May 24, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT
If so, do you like it?
May 24, 2013, 1:12 PM EDT
He was Guy Boucher’s right-hand man, so no huge surprise.
May 24, 2013, 12:59 PM EDT
The postgame comment that just won’t go away.
May 24, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
The Red Wings’ star may go back to Russia after next season.
May 24, 2013, 11:48 AM EDT
Back in Vegas next year.
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