If you wanted a head coaching announcement, well, today was your day.
The one man's name that kept appearing turned out to be the choice of Lou Lamoriello. It was expected (thanks to Blez and commenters here) and it came true: the New Jersey Devils have announced Jacques Lemaire to be the head coach of the New Jersey Devils for the 2009-10 season in a teleconference this afternoon. The conference also named the coaching rosters for both New Jersey and Lowell, the Devils' AHL affiliate. From Gulitti's initial post on the announcement, here's the breakdown:
Head Coach: Jacques Lemaire
Assistants: Mario Tremblay, Tommy Albelin, Jacques Caron
Head Coach: John MacLean
Assistants: Chris Terreri, Kevin Dean
Special Assignment Coach: Scott Stevens
Unless I'm mistaken, Tremblay is the only one that's actually new to the Devils organization. Not that his role will change, as he was Lemaire's assistant in Minnesota.
Let me point out that Gulitti already has all the Lemaire quotes and comments from today's conference that you'd be interested in. In it, Lemaire reveals that Tremblay ran the defense in Minnesota, he intends to get more out of Brian Rolston, and that he wants the Devils to do well at both ends of the rink. I can't quote all of it, so please read it.
Chere already has quotes from Lou about why he decided on Lemaire and partially explains why the decision took so long. The most important one is that Lou feels that Lemaire is the "right choice."
Truth be told, while I'm warming up to the selection a little bit, I'm not a big fan of the hiring right now. I really liked the style of play Brent Sutter was implementing on the Devils over the last two seasons, and I feel it was quite successful last season. I want to see the Devils continue improving, progressing, and playing that kind of possession hockey in the hopes that they'll even be more successful with a third season of it. But with Lemaire behind the bench, I have my doubts as to whether he'll have the Devils continue in that style of play. No, I can't name any current "free agent" coach who definitely would; but I fear that Lemaire will specifically have the Devils take a step back instead of stepping forward. A part of me would have liked to have seen a coach who would be new to the position - like Brent Sutter was two seasons ago - and provide an outside opinion on how the tactics should go, like Sutter did.
When I posed the question - do you want Lemaire to be the Devils' head coach - to readers almost a month ago, the poll was a decisive 57.9% to 42.1% against Lemaire. The comments in that post were mainly against the idea; offering valid reasons and concerns. For example, long-term stability at the coaching position, his penchant for defensive hockey not being as effective in the current NHL and/or won't be effective with the current Devils roster, and that his tendencies may suffocate Devils forwards like Zach Parise. These are all lingering concerns regardless of what Lemaire said as reported by Gulitti or what Lou said as reported by Chere or what Parise said - that he thinks that the Devils will remain offensive - as reported by Gulitti a few minutes ago.
One last item of interest is the annoucnement that John MacLean will be the head coach of the Lowell Devils. In my opinion, while Lemaire has said that he plans to coach for more than one year as reported by Gulitti, MacLean could be the "long term answer." Should MacLean continue the development of the Lowell Devils while having the team actually compete and make it to the AHL Playoffs, it'll give him the experience he needs and the confidence the organization may need to make him a head coach later down the line. Those are some pretty big "ifs," as Lowell hasn't made it to the post season since affiliating with New Jersey.
Of course, all this means is really we shall see. It's important to actually observe what Lemaire actually does before we judge whether hiring him was a smart decision. Personally and initially, I'm not a big fan of the hiring. Mirtle thinks it's a solid move, for what it is worth. I'll go ask our compatriots at Hockey Wilderness for their thoughts on Lemaire a little later; though BReynolds is already taunting the Devils. I suppose his mind just blacked out during 1995, 2000, and 2003. Anyway. Perhaps you feel differently. I'm open to any argument both for and against Lemaire coaching the Devils.