Tag:Jacques Lemaire
Posted on: November 10, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 6:13 pm

Lemaire joins trap debate, zings Milbury

By: Adam Gretz

You might know Jacques Lemaire as a Hall of Fame player with the Montreal Canadiens throughout the 1970s and a Stanley Cup winning coach in the 1990s. He's also the man that coaches the New Jersey Devils on a seemingly revolving door basis, or whenever general manager Lou Lamoriello wants somebody to rattle a few cages and shake things up.

He's also one of the masters of the neutral zone trap, and he is perhaps synonymous with the defensive system that he implemented during his various head coaching stops with the Devils, as well as his tenure with the Minnesota Wild.

The Trap Debate
With the NHL world taking sides and dishing out criticism for what transpired on the ice in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times decided to have a chat with Lemaire on Thursday to get his opinion on the criticism the Lightning have faced, as well as the Flyers' decision to counter the system by doing nothing (a point I can't make enough). And he even managed to work in a playful jab at analyst Mike Milbury, perhaps one of Tampa Bay's most vocal critics on Wednesday night.

Said Lemaire, via Lightning Strikes, "Myself, I laugh at this. I laugh at it this because are we supposed to coach as we please the people who are announcing the games or make comments on the games? Is that a new style or what? Do we have to please Milbury when we coach? It's the first time I hear of this."

Milbury was livid between periods on Wednesday night, as you can see in the video posted above.

Lemaire also appeared on XM Home ice and added a few more thoughts.

"As a coach I wouldn't have done that," said Lemaire of the Flyers strategy. "I think you're showing your players that we don't have a way of beating the team. I think every team has their own way of playing and you have to find a way to win, that's the bottom line."

It's a strong point. And I'll once again point out that Philadelphia entered Wednesday's game as the highest scoring team in the NHL, and it refused to go after a team that has allowed more 5-on-5 goals than all but three teams in the NHL this season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:01 pm

Ilya Kovalchuk's role as a penalty killer


By: Adam Gretz

New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk is logging more minutes than any other forward in the NHL this season. At over 26 minutes per game, he's fourth among all players in the league, and the only forward to crack the top-40 (the other 39, of course, are defensemen). This is not a new development.

Kovalchuk has always been one of the top players in the league when it comes to the number of minutes he's on the ice, and he's finished no lower than 12th among forwards in average ice-time per game going back to the 2005-06 season, leading the league in each of the past two seasons. What is a somewhat new development for Kovalchuk, currently in the second-year of a 15-year, $100 million contract he signed last summer following a lengthy contract saga that involved Tuesday's opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, is one of the ways in which he's piling up that ice time.

On the penalty kill.

Throughout his career Kovalchuk has never been regarded as a great, or even good, defensive player. Seeing him on the PK isn't something one might expect. At least not that often. Especially when coming into this season he typically averaged less than 10 seconds of shorthanded ice-time per game over the past five seasons.

This year, for what has been one of the top penalty killing teams in the league (entering Tuesday's game the Devils are clicking at 89 percent, good enough for seventh best in the league) he's been playing nearly a minute-and-a-half per game on the PK.

"I think he's getting better and better," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer regarding Kovalchuk's penalty killing efforts following a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"He's obviously a guy we want to be able to get out on the ice in situations in games where there's a lot of speciality teams. You don't want him sitting him for long stretches because of the penalty kill, so we're using him in both situations."

Basically, they want their best player on the ice as much as possible.

Sitting for long stretches hasn't been something he's had to worry about lately, as he's played over 29 minutes in three of the past four games. Using a player like Kovalchuk on the penalty kill certainly carries some risks and rewards. The risk, of course, is that -- and let's be honest -- he's not always the most responsible player defensively. His game is about scoring goals and creating offense, and it always has been. He's not going to suddenly turn into John Madden or Jere Lehtinen overnight.

The reward, as we witnessed on Saturday, is he can still create offense and put pressure on the opposition, even when his team is down a man. Early in the third period, with the Devils attempting to kill a double-minor for high-sticking, Kovalchuk won possession of the puck in the corner (as you can see in the video to the right), taking it from Chris Kunitz and immediately took off up the ice, not only getting the puck out of danger, but also setting up a shorthanded goal for Patrik Elias.

The Devils, in what is admittedly a very small sample size at this point, haven't allowed a power play goal when Kovalchuk has been on the ice this season.

Going back to last January, when Jacques Lemaire was still coaching in New Jersey, the idea of Kovalchuk killing penalties was kicked around when he asked Lemaire what he could do to become a better player. He told him to start killing penalties.

It should be interesting to see how his role continues to evolve throughout the season.

Eventually his overall minutes are going to have to start coming down, because he's not going to keep playing 29 or 30 minutes every night over the course of an 82-game season (plus potential playoff games). During New Jersey's last game, for example, he took only two shifts over the final eight minutes of regulation when the game was all but out of reach. It's possible the penalty kill is the area that he starts seeing fewer minutes. But until then, it's interesting to watch what has been regarded as one-dimensional, all-offense player take on, on at least a very limited basis, more of a defensive role.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 2:02 pm

Devils still without a coach: what's the holdup?

By Brian Stubits

What the devil is going on in New Jersey?

Here we are, more than three months after their season finished and the New Jersey Devils still haven't named a coach? General Manager Lou Lamoriello says a decision is coming. Some time soon, even.

"We will have a coach in the very near future, but not this week," Lamoriello said earlier this week.

Feels like that has been the standard response for a few weeks now. He is starting to sound like Chicago Cubs fans: Wait till next year.

The more time that passes, the more questions that are raised: Why is nobody taking what was not long ago a very good job? Why are the Devils going through coaches like kids through Halloween candy? Is Lamoriello tough to work under? Is there a dearth of desirable candidates? Is Lamoriello just being lazy? How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? (That's the only one I really know the answer to -- three.)

The list of names that have popped into the search at one point or another seems to be longer than Martin Brodeur's career. There have been retreads (two-time Devils coach Larry Robinson), coaching vets (Craig MacTavish, Ken Hitchcock), college coaches (Wisconsin's Mike Eaves) and everybody in between (hello, Guy Carbonneau and Michael Therrien). But naturally these names are just on a speculative list.

"I'm not going to get into discussions with reference to the coaching staff or anything of that nature," Lamoriello said. "There's [no coach] that has been named, so you can interpret it any way you want."

Then there's the ultimate retread: Jacques Lemaire. He has had three stints coaching the Devils, including the Stanley Cup champions in 1994-95 and last year's underachieving team that he made very competitive in his interim stretch.

Apparently his is one name you can safely cross off the list.

“I’m waiting for Lou to make his decision,” Lemaire told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I’m excited like the fans, I guess, to find out who it’s going to be. It’s not going to be me."

That has to be a bummer for Devils fans. Lemaire seems like he'd be a good stopgap for another season as he brought out the best in what was an awful Devils team. But it is probably for the good to move on to a new era. Preferably a long-term stay in Jersey, considering the Devils have had 12 coaches since Lemaire first left after the 1997-98 season (counting each visit for Robinson, Lemaire and Lamoriello's own stints separately).

So maybe it's worth it to take your sweet time to hire the right coach. It's just hard for me to imagine it takes this long to find said coach. All the other vacancies in the NHL have been filled and it's been that way for a while.

For more Devils news, click here.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 11:05 pm

Devils coaching search continues

By: Adam Gretz

National Hockey League teams go through coaches like normal people go through socks, and no team seems to go through more than the New Jersey Devils. Since the 2000-01 season the club has experienced 11 coaching changes, including multiple stints with Larry Robinson and Jacques Lemaire, as well as two interim appearances by general manager Lou Lamoriello. Honestly, it's an impressive revolving door.

This offseason the Devils are set to go through yet another change behind the bench, and an announcement could be coming within the next few days.

The name that seems to be jumping to the front of the line on Wednesday night is former Canadiens and Penguins coach Michel Therrien, which comes after former Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said he won't be the team's next coach, according to Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger. Sportsnet's Mike Brophy also mentioned Therrien as a leading contender for the job.

On Wednesday night Chere reported that Carbonneau had not heard from the Devils regarding their opening.
But Carbonneau, 51, who stepped down as head coach of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) junior team he partly owns, was in Montreal tonight and said he has not heard from the Devils despite applying for the job.

"It's not the first time I've heard (the rumors)," Carbonneau said. "I sent my resume to all the (NHL) teams looking for a coach after the season. Six teams I received no answers."

Carbonneau said he spoke to Devils assistant coach Larry Robinson "because he's back with the team, but nobody called me."

Enter Therrien, who last coached in the NHL during the 2008-09 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins only to be replaced mid-season by Dan Bylsma, who went on to lead the team to a Stanley Cup championship.

I've always felt Therrien would be a great fit on a young team in need of direction (and a swift kick in the rear), similar to the club he inherited in Pittsburgh during the 2005-06 season. I'm not sure the Devils fit that mold at this point, but Therrien does seem to be the type of coach they might look for as he's defensive-minded and kind of a disciplinarian.

If nothing else, the possibility of Therrien returning to the NHL means there's a chance we can see more "tell it like it is" post-game press conferences, and that's something we can all get behind.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com