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Devils’ fun run of wins opens Jacques Lemaire’s mind to return next season

Feb 7, 2011, 8:11 PM EDT

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Breaking news: winning is fun.

Such a concept isn’t even lost on New Jersey Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, a bench boss often associated (fairly or not) with the fun-killing neutral zone trap. Earlier this season, the bright strategist reportedly stamped out any notion that he might return to coach the team next year. Yet with the undoubted fun that most come with winning often (the Devils are 9-1-2 in their last 12 games), Lemaire left the door to another season open just a crack.

Simply enough, Lemaire said he’ll discuss next season after this one concludes. Such a coy response might be almost as frustrating as it must have been to play against Lemaire’s late-90s teams once they earned a one-goal lead, but the 65-year-old former NHL player has earned the right to call his own shots.

To some extent, it seems like the Devils’ resurgence might not accomplish much beyond ruining their first chance at a top five draft pick in ages. Then again, New Jersey isn’t completely out of the playoff picture just yet, trailing the Carolina Hurricanes by 16 points with 29 games left.

Let’s make this much clear: there’s little doubt the team is marching back toward respectability with Lemaire. If he can manage an almost unthinkable run to the playoffs, it would be hard to deny him a Jack Adams award. Either way, the Devils will likely want him back in 2011-12.

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