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Lemaire expects to name new captain

Friday, 01.7.2011 / 4:08 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Lemaire expects to name new captain
Lemaire expects to name a captain to replace Jamie Langenbrunner.
Jacques Lemaire will "probably" name a new Devils captain, but said Friday that true leadership doesn’t require the “C.”

There’s no word yet on when Jamie Langenbrunner’s replacement will be chosen, though it won’t be before the Devils visit Philadelphia for Saturday's 1 p.m. start.

Langenbrunner, the Devils’ captain since December 2007, was traded to Dallas on Friday for a conditional draft pick. He returns to the team with which he began his career and won his first Stanley Cup.

Langenbrunner was acquired by New Jersey in 2002. Also a part of the deal was Joe Nieuwendyk, now the Stars’ general manager. Together, they were members of the Devils' 2003 Stanley Cup championship.

"The captain's gone, when you look at it that way," Lemaire said. "Jamie did what he had to do here. I know Lou's (Lamoriello) talking about getting younger and we have to see what our kids do and all that. I guess that was the reason (for the trade)."

There’s no shortage of strong leadership left in the Devils’ dressing room, starting with Patrik Elias, who served as the team’s captain in 2006-07. Jason Arnott, Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston have also been NHL captains.

Lemaire doesn’t think the position is essential, however. While head coach in Minnesota, he was known for rotating the captaincy.

“I’m not a big, big fan of that myself,” Lemaire said when asked about the importance of naming a captain. “I’m not crazy about that because it’s the guys, all the players in the room that have to take care of the room. There have to be rules, laws, which they make together.”

To Lemaire, the character of a captain means he’ll be one of the team’s hardest workers regardless of whether he’s wearing a “C,” an “A,” or no letter at all.

“What will the captain do more than the other guys?” Lemaire asked. “He’s the boss? I know everyone will say, ‘He’s crazy about this. He’s in centerfield. Every team has captains.’ Yeah it’s been there for a hundred years. But when you think about it, the good teams, it’s not only the captain and just because he has the ‘C’ the team’s good. It’s because maybe the guy with the ‘C’ does his share, but if he doesn’t have the ‘C’ he’s going to do his share, too. You know why? Because he’s a team player and he’s a leader. He doesn’t need the ‘C’ to be the leader.”

As a player, Lemaire skated alongside legendary Canadiens captains Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard and Yvon Cournoyer. When he went behind the bench in New Jersey, Lemaire worked with Scott Stevens, still the gold standard for on- and off-ice leadership.

“Leaders, they lead,” Lemaire said. “They want to win, and they say, ‘This is what we have to do.’ I don’t need a letter for this. I don’t need a letter to do this. Some guys are natural and they become captain – that’s perfect. Even the natural ones, I look at (Sidney) Crosby, he doesn’t need a ‘C’ because he’s a great one. That’s what I’m saying. (Mark) Messier didn’t need a ‘C.’ Stevens didn’t need a ‘C.’ It’s not the letter that makes the person.”