Lemaire to the Lightning?

Lemaire One couldn’t help but to start connecting the dots when New Jersey Devils coach Jacques Lemaire announced his retirement Monday.Hmm, Lemaire makes his offseason home in Sarasota. Lemaire is tight with Doug Risebrough. The two worked together when Lemaire coached the Minnesota Wild and Risebrough was the general manager. Risebrough is a candidate to become the Lightning’s next general manager because Jac Sperling, former CEO of the Wild when Lemaire and Risebrough was there, is assisting new Lightning owner Jeff Vinik in putting together a front office. So … let’s throw this in a blender: Sperling and Risebrough and Lemaire and the Lightning and Sarasota. Mix it all together and … could Lemaire become the next Lightning coach?

Don’t count on it. Lemaire has retired and un-retired a couple of times, but this time his retirement seems permanent. He said Monday, “It’s the end of the line. I’ll be 65 (in September). It’s just time.”

I can see Lightning fans now getting the shakes at even the thought of Lemaire becoming the Lightning coach based on Lemaire’s reputation, which really isn’t that close to reality. Those who haven’t followed Lemaire closely talk about his “neutral-zone trap” and ‘boring defensive hockey” and really don’t fully grasp how Lemaire coaches. I covered Lemaire for three years in Minnesota and Lemaire told me on many occasions that he is just as happy winning games 7-6 as he is 1-0. But he never had teams talented enough to win games 7-6. So, Lemaire figured, it’s better to win 1-0 than lose 7-6.

It’s true Lemaire demands that his players are responsible defensively, but he doesn’t handcuff his players or stifle them offensively. Most of his teams tended to play defense-first hockey because those teams were not overly skilled offensively. Players with skill are given freedom. This season, New Jersey’s Zach Parise had 82 points in 81 games. Ilya Kovalchuk played 27 games under Lemaire after being traded from Atlanta and had 27 points — a point a game. Kovalchuk , known for his free-wheeling style, called Lemaire “one of the best coaches” he ever played for.


2 Responses to Lemaire to the Lightning?

  1. number15 says:

        Tampa will get nowhere until they figure out the Vincent Lacavalier problem. His 10 million per season are blocking Tampa from getting the decent role players to build around Steven Stamkos……. too bad they hung on to him when they could have traded him in a blockbuster a few seasons back. That will not happen again.

    ………………. Lemaire might pull if off though. Tampa has some nice pieces, in Hedman, Stamkos, St.louis, Malone and Lacavalier (if he wasent overpaid). That team has a chance with some decent coaching. Kinda like the Phoenix Coyotes

    though again, the Lacavalier contract is a killer

  2. albertateams says:

    How desperate do you think Tampa will be to unload his salary? Would they take back some shorter term contracts that aren't very good to get out from that contract? That contract makes him very unattractive to most teams. I wonder if they would take a deal like this:

    Tampa: Langkow, Kotalik, Nemisz, 1st 2011
    Calgary: Lacavalier

    Langkow and Kotalik both have 2 years left.  compared to Lacavalier's 10. They still get a good prospect and a pick and then can afford to sign Stamkos long term. I just have a hard time thinking there will be much better offers given that that contract is a nightmare.

    You can pretty much eliminate 20-25 of the teams in the league that can't afford his 10 million salary or fit his 7.7 million cap hit under the salary cap or waive his no trade clause to go to. Realistically the only teams that would be interested are: Montreal, New York Rangers, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and maybe St. Louis, Colorado, and LA.

    Montreal, New York are probably the most likely, but Tampa would still have to take back Gomez from MTL or Redden or Dury from NYR and wouldn't get much better in terms of picks or prospects.

    MTL: Lacavalier
    Tampa: Gomez, Weber, 1st 2010

    NYR: Lacavalier
    Tampa: Drury, Stepan, Mcdonaugh

    Given the length and dollar amount that is the worst contract in the NHL. If Vinny returns to form then things change but as of right now that contract would screw a lot of teams for the future.

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