Devils fire coach John MacLean
Published: Thursday, December 23, 2010, 9:52 AM Updated: Thursday, December
23, 2010, 10:30 AM
By Steve Politi/Star-Ledger Columnist
John MacLean's short and rocky tenure as Devils coach has come to an end, The
Star-Ledger has confirmed.
MacLean, who coached the injury-riddled team to an NHL-worst 20 points and
9-22-2 record, is expected to be replaced on an interim basis by former coach
Jacques Lemaire, an NHL official confirmed.
The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the
The news was first reported by Canadian radio station CKAC.
MacLean was introduced as coach in June, replacing Lemaire, who retired after
the 2009-10 season following the Devils' first-round playoff loss to the
MacLean's first season as an NHL head coach got off to an inauspicious start as
the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga extended into September. Despite Kovalchuk's
presence, the Devils have scored a mere 59 goals this season, easily the lowest
total in the league.
Injuries have also debilitated the team. Goalie Martin Brodeur has battled
elbow injuries and has played in only 23 games this season. Zach Parise, the
Devils' leading goal-scorer in each of the past four seasons, played in just 12
games before sustaining a torn meniscus in his right knee that required surgery.
He won't return until February. The Devils have also sustained multiple
injuries to their defense, which has allowed 103 goals this season, also near
the bottom of the league.
MacLean has been a member of the Devils coaching staff for nine seasons,
including seven as an assistant coach with the Devils and one as head coach of
the AHL affiliate in Lowell, Mass. In Lowell, last season, he led the team to
the best record in club history.
Lemaire, a two-time Jack Adams Award winner with a career coaching record of
588-441-124-60, will take over behind the Devils bench for the third time. He
won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995, but right now the 65 year old's
charge will be to lead the Devils out of the basement of the Eastern
The Devils have not missed the postseason since the 1995-96 season (during
Lemaire's first tenure as coach) but are 18 points out of the No. 8 spot in the
Eastern Conference heading into tonight's games.
It is unclear if Lemaire will be behind the bench tonight for the Devils when
they face the Islanders, who also have just 20 points this season but with a
better goal differential than the Devils, losers of three straight.
The Devils had 103 points under Lemaire last season, but they were essentially a
.500 hockey team after Xmas.
Lemaire is the first coach to have three separate reigns with the Devils; Tom
McVie, Lou Lamiorello and Larry Robinson each had two. it's the 5th time since
2000 that New Jersey has made an in-season coaching change.
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