Good riddance, Jacques (and yes, I was wrong)

26Apr10

Jacques Lemaire has stepped down as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, and, at 64-years-old, it’s unlikely he’ll coach in the National Hockey League again.

This is the best thing to happen to the NHL since the post-lockout rule changes that largely negated the skill-killing trap style of hockey Lemaire patented in his coaching career.

If anybody has ever done more to destroy the magnificent speed and flow of hockey than Jacques Lemaire, I’d like them to step forward.

I certainly can’t think of anybody.

As reported by Tom Canavan or the Associated Press, Lemaire made the announcement Monday, on the heels of a quick, five-game exit at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Saying he “doesn’t have the energy” for coaching anymore, Lemaire has accepted a yet-to-be-specified role within the Devils organization.

This is great news indeed.

It’s good news for the Devils too. Lemaire is yesterday’s man, and it was clear all season that he wasn’t the man to guide a team as talented as New Jersey is for the long-term. Players like Zach Parise and Travis Zajac need free-reign in order to ply their considerable offensive talents.

Lemaire’s exit may also pave the way for a further dismantling of the team I picked just a couple weeks ago to be a contender for the Eastern Conference crown.

(Yes, I was very wrong. So was Mike Brophy.)

Devils general manager Lou Lameirello brought back a bunch of the players from the Cup-winners of 1995, 2000 and 2003 over the past couple off-seasons, but clearly the greybeards are out of gas. Bobby Holik is already gone, Brian Rolston is close to the end of the line and legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur looks like playing 70 games a year has caught up to him.

It’s time for a changing of the guard in New Jersey.

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