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.
Sep 18, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
And it’s probably going to be Ryan McDonagh.
Sep 18, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
Two key youngsters on a Stars team with high hopes.
Sep 18, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT
Former first-round pick missed extensive time to a torn ACL.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT
Taken 16th overall in 2007.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT
Remember him? Taken 3rd overall in 2004… behind Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
Tough blow for a kid looking to make the leap this season.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
Just a precautionary measure, said GM Jim Rutherford.
Sep 18, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
He spent a lot of time on the sidelines last season, but Pittsburgh leaned on him heavily when he was healthy.
Sep 18, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Retired Finnish star was diplomatic after being made a healthy scratch, but now he’s opening up.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT
Is it still reasonable to believe this might have a relatively happy ending for both sides?
Sep 18, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT
Brendan Bell also gets a chance to impress.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
A clothing-conscious post.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
His back issues present another headache for Columbus.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
He has 44 games of NHL experience under his belt.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
Insert your “humongous big” jokes here.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Quite an open letter.
Sep 17, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
His agent says it’s best to leave town and avoiding being a distraction.
Sep 17, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT
“No matter how much my old teammates say it doesn’t bother them, it affects them. It does in that city.”
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