Mike Babcock might already have three assistant coaches to work with in Jim Hiller, D.J. Smith, and Andrew Brewer, but in a world that values the wisdom of crowds, the more is often the merrier. This becomes even more the case when your potential fourth assistant is an all time great, and according to TSN 690 Montreal’s Tony Marinaro, the Leafs might just make an addition along those lines in Jacques Lemaire.
Source out of Toronto tells me Mike Babcock’s #1 Assistant Coach choice is Jacques Lemaire. And, that Lemaire has been contacted. #TSN690
— Tony Marinaro (@TonyMarinaro) August 13, 2015
Lemaire’s resume would be pretty capable of speaking for itself, if resumes could talk. The 69-year-old started coaching almost immediately after his retirement as a player. Lemaire made his debut behind an NHL bench in 1983 with his former Montreal Canadiens, before heading into the office as an assistant general manager.
After winning his second Stanley Cup as an AGM in 1993, Lemaire was lured back into coaching by present Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, then in the midst of his illustrious career with the New Jersey Devils.
In his five-year tenure with the Devils, Lemaire introduced the “neutral zone trap”, a highly structured defensive system that put fans of opposing teams to sleep but won a lot of hockey games, including the 1995 Stanley Cup. Lemaire eventually took his system and passion for non-permanent lines to the Minnesota Wild, where he spent eight years and won his second Jack Adams Trophy. Lemaire eventually returned to the Devils in 2009/10, coaching the team for two more seasons before retiring.
Between his playing, management, and coaching careers, Lemaire has amassed an amazing eleven stanley cup rings. He’s also in the top-10 for all time wins as a coach, with 617.
A move like this would be interesting. Lemaire has an obvious connection to Lamoriello, but was also one of Babcock’s assistants during the 2010 Olympics. His role would likely involve him teaching structured defence to the younger players, which given the Leafs’ innate ability to leak shots against, is probably not the worst idea in the world.
With that said, the Leafs may need to literally widen the benches at the Air Canada Centre if they keep hiring people. Four assistants is a crowded staff, but a well-organized group would turn the commotion into an asset.
Whatever the outcome, adding another all-time great hockey mind is a very interesting proposition. We’ll see how it plays out.