Lou Lamoriello leaving the New Jersey Devils to join the Toronto Maple Leafs shocked the hockey world, and now he’s bringing one of his longtime associates with him.
The Maple Leafs announced Friday morning they have hired Jacques Lemaire as a special assignment coach, a role mirroring the one he undertook with the New Jersey Devils for the past four seasons.
“Obviously Jacques Lemaire has a wealth of experience,” said Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock in a release. “We had a great relationship from the 2010 Olympics and I’ve asked him to join our staff to help me and the rest of our coaches within the entire organization be the best they can be.”
NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulitti reported Thursday that Lemaire was considering a few potential job offers, including one in Toronto alongside longtime Devils GM Lamoriello. When asked about the offers, Lemaire said he had yet to speak with the Devils’ new GM Ray Shero or the club’s management regarding his status with New Jersey going forward.
“That's really what I'm waiting for there,” Lemaire told Gulitti. “To see what (the Devils’) intentions are and then I'll go from there.”
It wasn’t just Gulitti who believed Lemaire to be in the running for a position with the Maple Leafs, however. Earlier Thursday, TSN 690’s Tony Marinaro reported a source out of Toronto had told him Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was hoping to land Lemaire for an assistant coaching gig.
Lemaire had also admitted he, “was involved with a couple teams so far,” and told Gulitti he was hoping to make his decision by early September. Friday’s announcement makes that decision official.
Lemaire, a two-time Jack Adams Award winner, coached the Devils to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1994-95 and spent a total of seven years behind the New Jersey bench. Over his career, which includes coaching stops in Montreal and Minnesota, Lemaire has amassed a record of 617-458-124-63.
The 69-year-old Lemaire was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1984. Over his 12-year playing career, of which he spent the entirety with Montreal, Lemaire won eight Stanley Cups. He is one of only seven players to hoist the Cup at least eight times as a player.
Gulitti asked Lemaire what his feelings would be on joining the Maple Leafs organization after being such a central figure in Canadiens history, to which Lemaire responded he had, “been away so long that the only guy that is still involved there that I know well (are Canadiens coaches) Mike Therrien and J.J. Daigneault, who I coached.”
In a front office position with the Canadiens, Lemaire added two Stanley Cups to his resume in 1986 and 1993 as an assistant GM. He was won 11 Stanley Cups over the course of his career.