Lemaire Trapped in New Jersey; MacLean Ready to be Sprung

Does anyone else think Jacques Lemaire maybe wasn’t Lou Lamoriello’s first choice to coach the Devils? Otherwise, why wait so long to name him? Was he scared Lemaire’s defensive system would scare off potential free agents? Because the lack of a coach sure didn’t seem to entice anyone to sign with the Devils.

In fact, the whole restructuring of the Devils seems to indicate a longer range plan that might not include Lemaire.

Devils hero John MacLean, perennially passed over for the head coaching job despite being an assistant coach in an organization that pretty much changes coaches once a season, will be the head coach of the Devils AHL affiliate in Lowell. Scott Stevens will also have a larger role in the Devils organization. My theory is both are being groomed as future coaches. Last man standing will inherit Lemaire’s job. But it seems like MacLean’s job to lose. And if he doesn’t replace Lemaire, he’ll replace the next Devils coach. Or the one after that one. Eventually, MacLean will coach the Devils, though. Lamoriello is running out of people to fire and then re-hire as coach.

Lemaire spent his first day on the job playing down his trap leanings, but I don’t recall seeing any kind of attacking schemes in Minnesota. It seems that Lemaire knows New Jersey saw some success last season under former coach Brent Sutter’s more aggressive, forechecking style. Lemaire might be under pressure to repeat that success with a similar attack. And if it doesn’t work out, Lamoriello has two solid coaching candidates already under contract.

I feel bad for Lemaire. It seems like he’s being brought in to coach a style that he might not be entirely fluent with. It almost feels like he’s being set-up to fail so that John MacLean can finally get his moment in the sun. Lemaire surely knows the risks. No one ever gets a job coaching the Devils and then buys a house. Usually, you’re looking for a week-to-week lease.