Jacques Lemaire to Return To New Jersey Devils

Zeke Fuhrman@@mellamoelzekeAnalyst IIIJuly 13, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 15:  Head coach Jacques Lemaire of the Minnesota Wild grimaces as he leads his team against the Colorado Avalanche during game four of the 2008 NHL Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 15, 2008 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Wild 5-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Many people predicted that if the right situation opened up for Jacques Lemaire, he would return for a 16th season as an NHL head coach.

The positon opened up, and four months after stepping down as head coach of the Minnesota Wild, Lemaire will now be seen on the bench at Prudential Center.

Lemaire, who was the head coach of the New Jersey Devils from 1993-1998, went 199-122-57 during his first stint in New Jersey, including New Jersey's first Stanley Cup season in 1994.

Lemaire's 199 wins are the most by a head coach in Devils franchise history.

Lemaire was brought in to replace Brent Sutter, who won 97 games for New Jersey in his two years as coach. Sutter resigned from his positon on June 9 after the first two years of his three year contract, citing a desire to be closer to his home in Alberta. Two weeks later, he was named the head coach of the Calgary Flames by his brother Darryl, the Flames GM.

Lemaire, who was the only head coach the Wild franchise had ever known, spent nine years in Minnesota, compiling a record of 293-255-108 and 694 pts. He led Minnesota to the playoffs three times, including the Western Conference Finals as the No. 6 seed in 2002, which was Minnesota's first playoff berth.

Minnesota were swept by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and were outscored 9-1 in the four games. The Devils defeated Anaheim for their third Stanley Cup that season.

Lemaire also won one Northwest Divison title in 2007, but lost to the Colorado Avalance in the first round.

Lemaire will be reuinted with former Wild player Brian Rolston in New Jersey. Rolston played 240 games for Lemaire from 2005-2007, scoring 96 goals, recording 106 assists, and tallying 202 points.

Lemaire, a two-time Jack Adams award winner, will look to help Atlantic Division Champion Devils (51-27-4) improve on last season, in which it lost in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs to the No. 6 seed Carolina Hurricanes.