Lemaire announces retirement

Lemaire: 'It’s the end of the line… It’s just time."

Monday, 04.26.2010 / 3:35 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Lemaire announces retirement\r\n
Jacques Lemaire, the man who led the Devils to their first Stanley Cup title and returned last summer to guide them to their ninth Atlantic Division championship, announced his retirement from coaching on Monday.

After 16 seasons behind the bench with the Devils, Montreal Canadiens, and the Minnesota Wild, Lemaire is ready to turn the page.

“It’ll be hard,” Lemaire told reporters Monday. “It’s a game that I’ve been in for a long time. I really had a passion for it, and I still do. There’s no doubt if I had the energy I would keep going because I love it.”

Lemaire won eight Cups during a Hall of Fame career with the Canadiens, then added two more as a member of Montreal’s front office. He captured his 11th ring in 1995, when he coached the Devils to their first championship. He will remain within the organization.

Lemaire was adamant that this year’s first-round exit didn’t impact his decision. The Devils enjoyed the best first half in club history en route to their fourth division title in five years. But in the playoffs, they faced a Philadelphia Flyers squad that had given them trouble all year long, and bowed out in five games.

“It’s not the team, not the result; the lack of the result that we had in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that at all. It’s the end of the line. I’ll be 65. It’s just time.”

He admitted to low energy levels down the stretch, something that had him thinking retirement a year ago, after eight seasons with the Wild. But the Devils had a coaching vacancy, and general manager Lou Lamoriello came calling.

“Lou came to my place and asked me if I was interested in coaching again,” Lemaire recounted. “I looked at the team, looked at the organization, I got excited again because I love the game and I always had passion for the game. Especially that it was Lou, that I worked for in the past. I knew how he did things. And a team, that I felt had a chance to do good in the playoffs. I went on and signed and accepted the challenge. The year went really well.”

Lamoriello, who talked about the mutual respect that he and Lemaire share, described Lemaire’s arrangement as one that would be evaluated at season’s end, regardless of outcome.

“I flew to Montreal when we needed a coach, and spoke to him, had him look at the team, sent him tapes,” Lamoriello said. “I told him I’d like to see him come back. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘Lou, I don’t know where the energy’s going to be with reference to certain things.’ And I said to him, ‘Listen, whatever your decision is, I understand, whether you do or do not want to.' I said, ‘Think about it.’ But there was an understanding between the both of us that he would reevaluate at the end of the year, which would have nothing to do with how the team went; would have nothing to do with wins and losses.”

Lamoriello said he broke the news to the players. Lemaire, visibly upset while talking to reporters, had a hard time with doing it himself.

“This morning, Jacques, he said he spoke to the coaches,” Lamoriello said. “He did come into the room with me when I spoke to the players. It was just a difficult thing because Jacques is a players’ coach. We tried to make it easy. We didn’t know how this would go right here, because of the type of individual he is and the type of person he is. These are tough things, certainly. I don’t know of anyone I have more respect for in this game than him.”

One of the most decorated and widely respected figures in the game, Lemaire enjoyed a season in which his club overcame key injuries to post 48 wins and 103 points.

“The season went really well,” he said. “I would’ve been a lot more tired. The season went really well. I know it’s disappointing because you look at the team and always feel, ‘Hey we have a chance here. We have  a chance to do something.' Especially that I felt I was getting towards retirement one day. It would’ve been nice to do something else in the playoffs. That’s my only disappointment. The season, it was good, it was fun. Good coaching staff, good organization. This is why I wanted to keep working for the organization, because I know what they’re trying to do. I like what they’re trying to do.”

Lemaire is the winningest coach in franchise history (247) and held the longest tenure of any Devils coach under Lamoriello. He guided them from 1993-94 to 1997-98, making an appearance in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals before going all the way in 1995. In six total seasons under Lemaire, the Devils amassed 100 or more points four times.




1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48


A. Henrique 69 16 24 -3 40
M. Cammalleri 62 25 13 3 38
P. Elias 63 11 21 -16 32
S. Gomez 52 7 24 -7 31
S. Bernier 61 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 68 11 12 -4 23
A. Larsson 58 3 19 3 22
A. Greene 76 3 18 3 21
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 56 6 11 -3 17
C. Schneider 26 28 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 5 3 .918 2.47