I just saw this post at Tom Gulitti's Fire and Ice and the following two quotes from Jacques Lemaire, well, it really warrants immediate attention. For the full effect, please take a big gulp of a beverage of some kind.
"It’s funny," Lemaire said. "When I looked at the tape [of the Devils last season], I felt the team played even more defensive than my team (in Minnesota)."
"I think it will be fairly similar because they [last year's team] were playing a good game defensively and a good game offensively, Lemaire said. "When we have the puck, we might try to be a little style differently when we get [the] puck, a little more offense in a way there. But when don’t have the puck, I hope that we’re going to play as good as they were playing. They were playing tight in the D-zone."
(Emphasis mine.) Now you may need to get some paper towels, because you just spit liquid all over the place. Imagine that, someone in the Devils organization actually being up front to the media about the team's plans.
As of tonight, I am officially on board the Jacques Lemaire train. I've said when he was hired that I was wary of the hiring because I felt the way Brent Sutter's systems worked very well in New Jersey and the Lemaire hiring indicated an end to that. Before he was even hired, a majority of readers polled would be against the signing, with those who have commented expressed doubt due to his defensive tendencies. I re-expressed my concern when his response to a fan indicated to me that he would institute a trapping game.
Yet, earlier this week, the comments he had regarding what he would like to change seemed like good news to me. But these statements really hammer home the point and I had it wrong from the start. Lemaire reviewed tapes of last season's team and he really does only want to tweak the system. And he wants to maintain the team's defensive performance; the tweaking would be for more offense.
I'm honestly surprised by this. Pleased and happy to be wrong, as well! Those who have assumed and/or worried that Lemaire would be a defense-only coach are looking foolish, myself included. Big thanks to Gulitti for getting this up on the eve of veterans officially reporting for training camp. What do you think of Lemaire's statement? Think he'll succeed in getting the Devils to be more offensive? Do you think he should focus on the defense instead? Are you still skeptical and want to see how things go in preseason first?