Lemaire steps down as Devils coach

 

The players weren’t overly surprised when Jacques Lemaire announced that he would not be returning as the New Jersey Devils’ coach next year. Lemaire, who on December 23 began his third stint as Devils’ coach, will be going out on a winning note as New Jersey won their last regular season game 3-2 against the play-off bound Boston Bruins. This soon to be 66 year-old nearly got the Devils into the play-offs after taking this struggling team, which at the time were last in the Eastern Conference with a 9-22-2 record. Once Lemaire took over the team posted a 29-17-3 record and got the Devils to within six points of a play-off spot,which isn’t bad when you consider that at one point they were over 20 points out. “He did a great job… we’ll see, maybe he’ll change his mind and come back next year,” said Devils forward, Ilya Kovalchuk. “We got word of his decision in a meeting before the game. He brought the team back and did a lot of good things for our organization.”
Lemaire, who started his coaching career with the Montreal Canadiens, enjoyed a lofty milestone, when on February 10 in Toronto against the Maple Leafs he recorded his 600th coaching victory. During his stints in New Jersey he posted a remarkable 276-166-67 record and overall with the Canadiens, Minnesota Wild and Devils he was 617-458-187. In stepping down Lemaire wants to spend more time relaxing and enjoying the company of his family. “I said today when I talked to my wife, if I were younger I’d come back … because I love it,” Lemaire said. “But hockey demands a lot. I want to enjoy my life.”

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