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Lemaire relieves MacLean as head coach

Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 12:23 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Looking to turn their season around, the Devils announced today that Jacques Lemaire will relieve John MacLean as head coach.

Lemaire, who moves behind the Devils’ bench for the second time in two seasons, will fly from Montreal today to take over the reigns for tonight’s home matchup with the New York Islanders.

With a mark of 9-22-2, the Devils are tied with the Islanders for last overall. They have scored the fewest goals (59) in the NHL and own a League-worst goal differential of -44.

“This was a decision that certainly was not one that is pleasant or we feel good about,” said Devils’ President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello. “But it’s a decision, in my opinion, that had to be made.”

Lemaire, 65, returned last season for his second stint with the club. Under his guidance, the Devils posted a mark of 48-27-7 to capture their second straight Atlantic Division title.

Lemaire announced his retirement from coaching on April 26, following New Jersey’s first-round playoff loss to Philadelphia, and had remained on staff as a special assignment coach. His 460 games coached, 247 wins, 61 playoff games and 35 postseason wins with the Devils are tops in club history. He led New Jersey to its first Stanley Cup title in 1995.

“I called Jacques (Wednesday) night, had a conversation with him, and asked him where his thoughts were, how he felt and so forth,” Lamoriello said. “He’ll help in whatever way he can. We all know he left because he felt as though it was the right thing to do with where he was at.

“I asked him if he would come back for the second half until we can see exactly where we are and where we’re at. I also felt that there is time to get back on track. I really believe that.”

This was the first NHL head coaching job for MacLean, who was named to the post on June 17. Current assistants Larry Robinson and Adam Oates will remain on staff.

Despite mounting losses, there was some justification for a patient approach. The power play has scored in eight straight games, and the penalty killers are 29-for-31 over that span.

“Maybe (we) were teased with signs at different times,” Lamoriello said. “As I said, I take responsibility for waiting to try and get it to where it should (be). Under no set of circumstances should all this responsibility be on the coach by any means. The responsibility lies on the players and myself for what couldn’t be done. Unfortunately, we just weren’t getting it done where we’re at.”

Five-on-five play has been a problem. At even strength, the Devils have managed a League-low 35 goals. They've been outscored 15-3 on their current three-game losing skid, and have one win in their last nine, a 3-0 blanking of Phoenix on Dec. 17.

Lamoriello informed MacLean of the move Thursday morning. He cited “the last four or five games” when asked about the timing of his decision.

“John is a professional,” Lamoriello said. “We also know it’s no secret that John was with me as a player and John spent a lot of team with me in different capacities over the last few years. John knew it wasn’t easy on both sides, but he understood. John is a class act in every way, and John is a franchise, an organization person. We’ll certainly get together over the holidays and he’ll be right back at work in the organization doing something.

“I do not feel by any means that his coaching career is over should that be what he wants to pursue. In my opinion he is an excellent coach. It’s just, this is the profession we’re in and we have to win. That’s the game. These are tough decisions.”

Prior to coaching in Lowell last season, MacLean, 46, served seven campaigns as a Devils assistant and was a member of the 2003 Stanley Cup championship. In his one season in the AHL, MacLean led Lowell to its best-ever record and first-ever playoff berth.

Originally drafted sixth overall by the Devils in 1983, MacLean is the team’s all-time leading goal scorer with 347. He was a member of the Devils’ 1995 Cup title and retired in 2002 after 18 NHL seasons with the Devils, Sharks, Rangers and Stars.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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