Now that Lemaire has retired, the Devils will begin the familiar process of finding a head coach. The Devils were a great success under Lemaire and rebounded to respectability.
As the Devils look to continue their winning ways next season, the general consensus among fans is that the next head coach of the Devils must be, in the words of Rich Chere, "Jacques II" (as he referred to lead coaching candidate Ken Hitchcock).
Jacques II would be a head coach who has a large amount of coaching experience who preaches a defensive style.
John Maclean is the chief reason behind this theory. The Devils were 9-22-2 before Maclean was fired and showed no hope of rebounding. Because of this small sample of failure, we have been conditioned to believe that a rookie head coach will always be as inept as Maclean.
To disprove this theory, I researched current head coaches in the NHL and found their records during their first full (82 game) season. Some coaches were not with their current teams during their first full year of coaching experience. This is denoted by (parenthesis) which tell which team their first full season of coaching was with. For example, although Brent Sutter currently coaches Calgary, the record I posted is when he coached with the 2007-2008 Devils because that is his first year of coaching 82 games. Round reached in playoffs are denoted in (parenthesis).
Randy Carlyle- (ANA 2005) 43-27-12 98 points (Lost in Conference Championship)
Craig Ramsay- (ATL 2010) - 34-36-12 80 points
Claude Julien - (Montreal 2002) 41-30-7-4 93 points (Lost in second round)
Lindy Ruff- (Buffalo 1997) 36-29-17 89 points (Lost in Conference Championship)
Brent Sutter - (New Jersey 2007) 46-29-7 99 points - (Lost in first round)
Paul Maurice - (Hartford 1996) 32-39-11 79 points
Joel Quinneville - (St. Louis 1996) 45-29-8 98 points (lost in second round)
Joe Sacco -(Colorado 2009) 43-30-9 95 points (lost in first round)
Scott Arniel -(Columbus 2010) 34-35-13 81 points
Marc Crawford - (Colorado 1996) 47-25-10 (Won Stanley Cup)
Mike Babcock - (Anaheim 2002) 40-27-9-6 95 points (Lost to Devils in Stanley Cup Finals)
Tom Renney- (Vancouver 1996) 35-40-7 77 points
Peter DeBoer -(FLA 2008) 41-30-11 93 points -fired this week
Terry Murray - (Washington 1990)- 37-36-7 81 points (lost in second round)
Todd Richards -(MIN 2010) 38-36-8 84 points - fired this week
Jacques Martin (St Louis 1986) 32-33-15 79 points (lost in first round)
Barry Trotz (first year of Nashville expansion 1998) 28-47-7 63 points
Jacques Lemaire (Montreal 1985) 41-27-12 94 points (lost in second round)
Jack Capuano (Islanders 2010) 26-29-10
John Tortorella (Tampa 2001) 27-40-11-4 69 points
Cory Clouston (Ottawa 2009) 44-32-6 94 points (lost in first round)
Peter Laviolette (Islanders 2001) 42-28-8-4 96 points (lost in first round)
Dave Tippett (Dallas 2002) 46-17-15-4 111 points (lost in second round)
Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh 2009) 47-28-7 101 points (lost in second round)
Todd McLellan (San Jose 2008) 53-18-11 117 points (lost in first round)
Davis Payne (St. Louis 2010) 38-33-11 87 points
Guy Boucher (Tampa 2010) 46-25-11 103 points (currently playing Pittsburgh in first round)
Ron Wilson (ANA 1993) 33-46-5 71 points
Alain Vigneault (Montreal 1997) 37-32-13 87 points (lost in second round)
Bruce Boudreau (Washington 2008) 50-24-8 108 points (lost in second round)
An obvious criticism of this is that these coaches represent those that have "succeeded" and remained in the NHL. However, it is encouraging that many current coaches reach the playoffs in their first season and have some measure of success. It just goes to show that the next coach of the Devils does not need to be Jacques II, or have the most experience, or have won the most games. Rather, whoever is the next coach of the Devils must have the motivation to take this team to the next level instead of being handed the job (it is fair to say Maclean was handed the job after so many years of assistant coaching for the Devils).