It’s very good news for the New Jersey Devils that coach Jacques Lemaire is considering staying on another season.
If Lemaire stays, it’ll give the team some consistency, letting the Devils build on the many successes of this season.
Conversely, it’ll spare the team the growing pains of yet another new coach. Or in the case of the Devils, a team that often finds itself reaching into its past hires for new hires, a new old coach.
The Devils’ miracle run into a playoff spot seems just about over, but that still doesn’t take away from the turnaround Lemaire performed this season.
In December, Lemaire took over a 9-22-2 team that had no working parts and turned it into a 25-13-2 juggernaut.
There are many reasons for the turnaround. Simpler, more effective paths out of the defensive zone. More of an emphasis on conditioning. But overall, there’s also a tremendous amount of respect for Lemaire. He’s got some gritty players who are now pretty scared to take bad penalties.
It seems like previous coach John MacLean didn’t have the room the way Lemaire does.
The Devils are a funny team. In a lot of ways, they’re known for their great coaches, yet they’ve had lots of different guys during their dynasty years. In fact, each of their three Stanley Cups, all won within a 10-year period, was won with a different coach.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello knows the value in a change of coaching scenery and he’s famous for coaching switches to motivate a team.
But after a rough start to this season, plus an increasingly probable playoff absence, it might be time for the Devils to settle into a little more of a coaching groove. Holding onto Lemaire for at least one more season would allow the Devils to easily transition from one season into another, without having to learn a new system, a new personality, and a new coaching philosophy.
Lemaire should stay another year because he’s effective. The Devils can’t afford to sacrifice another 33 games of a season to a new coach.