For the after-math: Lemaire in, Ilya out?

Despite so much going so wrong for so long, general manager Lou Lamoriello said he expects Jacques Lemaire to return as Devils coach next season.

“There’s no question he will be back, unless you know something I don’t know,” Lamoriello said yesterday in the wake of his team’s third straight first-round elimination from the playoffs.
“I’m certainly happy with the job Jacques has done and not unhappy with the effort put in,” he said. “We just didn’t get the job done.”

The Devils, who went from 32-11-1 in their first 44 games to 16-16-6 thereafter, bombed out of the playoffs in five games to the Flyers, losing the final game 3-0 Thursday night in Newark.

“The standards here are very high — it’s not something that will be accepted,” Lamoriello said. “It’s three years in a row. It’s not something you can hide. We have to look at it.

“Was this team playoff-built? There’s no question in my mind it was. It didn’t get it done. Start with the specialty teams. One team did it, one team didn’t.

“You can’t put any blame on goaltending. We’ve got goaltending.”

Lamoriello said he had high hopes for this team, which earned a 13th straight playoff berth, won a ninth Atlantic Division title, topped 100 points (103) for the 12th time and won its fifth Jennings Trophy for fewest goals-against.

“This team had the ability and potential to go a great distance,” Lamoriello said.

Instead, they have won only two of eight series since their last Stanley Cup in 2003, and are they are 6-16 in their past 22 playoff games. They also are 3-7 in playoff games in Newark, where they have been eliminated in the first round in front of their fans in every year since they moved there.

Lamoriello said he wants to keep upcoming unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, his big midseason acquisition.

“We certainly would like to keep him. He did everything we’ve asked of him. He’s a solid citizen,” Lamoriello said. “We would like him to be a Devil. We have not spoken [contract] intentionally to not disrupt the season.”

Lamoriello said Kovalchuk’s integration into the team’s style was not complete.

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2 Responses to For the after-math: Lemaire in, Ilya out?

  1. cam7777 says:

    The Devils have some stagnating contracts that will be tough to move.  Elias, Rolston and Zubrus are all getting up there, and the three of them consume a massive 14.5 million in cap space.  It's an awkward position to be in, because while those players are all fine, and will help you make the playoffs every year, they very clearly are not going to push you to the next level.  Nevermind the fact that Rolston has a NTC, and Elias has a NMC
    If the Devils resign Kovalchuk, and let's say they somehow do it at a massive discount of only 7.5 million annually, what does that mean for Parise when his contract is up next summer?  THey'd easily be spending over 15 million on their left wingers.  Pittsburgh makes this work with Crosby and Malkin, but the center ice position is a lot different than the wing, and I would argue substantially more impactful on the outcome of games. 

    To that, I would also add that Lou has a history of not paying players who ask for too much.  Ron Wilson has gone so far as to call Parise the American Crosby, claiming he would have all the same hype and attention if he weren't in New Jersey, slowed down by the tiresome trap.  After getting raped on his last contract, how much is Parise going to want out of Lou this time around, and will he be willing to pay it?  If he's not, isn't a tempting idea to try and address all other problems by just trading away Parise?  The return would presumably be massive, and if they already have Kovalchuk, what have they really lost?

    I suppose you start by shopping Zubrus for defensive help.  The Bruins might be interested in talking about Wideman, as the fan base seems very discontent with him.  This would be a mistake for Boston, but I could see them doing it.  Then you look at whether or not Rolston is interested in moving.  Lou has the same principles as Burke, so he won't ask him to waive his NTC, however, Rolston has struggled offensively in Jersey's system, so it woudln't hurt to ask him what his feelings on the matter are.  If he's willing to move, again, look for defensive help.

  2. mojo19 says:

    So much for this article, Lemaire retires.

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