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.
Oct 30, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT
Which is important, because good defensive teams win Stanley Cups.
Oct 30, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT
For the EIHL’s Belfast Giants.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:52 PM EDT
Just one point in his last five games.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT
Click for video proof.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT
St. Louis’ health woes continue.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
“So we need to get better or things are going to change around here probably sooner rather than later.”
Oct 30, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT
We should find out after tonight’s game.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:13 PM EDT
Winnipeg’s won three of its last four.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT
He appeared in 36 games last year.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
If you’re curious what a buyout would cost the Wings, click on the post.
Oct 30, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Wild still suffering from Monday’s loss to the Rangers.
Oct 30, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT
After playing a man short on Tuesday in Philly.
Oct 30, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT
Some good news for Edmonton on the injury front.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
If he could get going, Dallas wouldn’t be as reliant on its top line.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:01 AM EDT
The numbers are even more striking when you compare Oct. 2014 to Oct. 2003
Oct 30, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
Nashville continues its strong start to 2014-15.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT
He sat out the third period for Grand Rapids because of soreness.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:21 PM EDT
Interesting discussion between Bob McKenzie and Mike Milbury.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
Some controversial calls on a light Wednesday night.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:19 PM EDT
Detroit’s big guns came through.
- Blues lose Backes, Oshie indefinitely to concussions 1
- Red Wings take over third period, blank Ovechkin in win 7
- Video: Doc Emrick’s heartfelt words about Gordie Howe 5
- Rangers’ Moore suspended five games for ‘extremely difficult’ Haula hit 18
- Ovechkin looking to avoid career-long scoring slump tonight 11
- Nolan skates Sabres, says the time for ‘taking it easy is over’ 37
- Report: Gryba, Tropp avoid punishment after getting tossed for hits 6
- What they’re saying about the Sabres (and it’s not good) 22
- NHL on NBCSN: Caps, Red Wings battle after hotly contested 13-14 series 5
- Miller wins 300th, Canes finish Oct. without single victory 7
- Video: John Moore with an elbow to the head of Erik Haula (Updated) (62)
- Report: Varlamov being sued by ex-girlfriend (47)
- Kreider calls Brodin hit a ‘bang-bang play,’ doesn’t plan to dramatically change his game (45)
- No hearing scheduled for Kreider after Brodin hit (44)
- Kopitar out, Lombardi irate as Kings will play shorthanded vs. Flyers (40)