Consult the Stats before Dismissing Jacques Lemaire

Norm KennedyContributor IJune 19, 2009

VANCOUVER - MARCH 4:  Head Coach Jacques Lemaire of the Minnesota Wild looks on against the Vancouver Canucks during the NHL game on March 4, 2007 at GM Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The Canucks defeated the Wild 4-3 in a shootout.  (Photo by: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Here's what I know.

I know that the Devils have a vacancy at their head coaching spot.

I also know that a familiar friend, Jacques Lemaire, doesn't have a team to coach.

Finally, I know that a good majority of Devils fans reading this are already rolling their eyes and hitting the red "X" at the top corner of the page. I'm curious as to why there is all the disdain for Jacques Lemaire?

The common answer is, "Let's not revert to the 'old' way of Devils hockey."

Let's think... what do you consider old? The Lemaire era? Which brought us a cup? How about the Robinson era—he used Lemaire's structure, after all.

If "old hockey" equates to Stanley Cups, tell me where to sign.

Now, let's pretend for a second that Pat Burns is available. Does he meet the same, if any, opposition? I doubt it. I doubt it very much.

Why is there a misconception that the Devils permanently couldn't score under Jacques Lemaire, but were a free-wheeling team under Burnsie? The numbers should surely give you an answer.

Under Lemaire:
1993-94 (84 games played): 3.64 goals per game (second out of 26 teams)
1994-95 (48 GP): 2.83 GPG (tied for 13th)
1995-96 (82 GP): 2.62 GPG (25th)
1996-97 (82 GP): 2.82 GPG (16th)
1997-98 (82 GP): 2.74 GPG (ninth)

Under Burns:
2002-03 (82 GP): 2.63 GPG (14th out of 30 teams)
2003-04 (82 GP): 2.60 GPG (14th)

Hm. That's odd. Am I reading, correctly, that Lemaire actually has better offensive statistics than does Pat Burns? How terribly problematic to those nay-sayers.

Lemaire, on the other hand, boasts gaudy career statistics; finishing below .500 a grand total of twice in his career—both times with an expansion franchise.

One of the biggest tasks for next season, which will ultimately be an indicator as to how we fare, is righting the ship with Brian Rolston. What better way to boost his confidence level than to bring back the coach he has played under for eight years in his career? If Rolston can have another 30-goal, 30-assist season—something he put up regularly under Lemaire in Minnesota—this can be a different team.

Now, you certainly don't need to agree. But before blindly screaming "Hell, no!" when Jacques' name comes up.. think about it. We're an experienced team, we need an experienced coach. Jacques Lemaire, at least for me, is the guy.

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