REPORT: Leafs have contacted Jacques Lemaire for assistant coaching job

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.

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.

    • Harte of a Lion

      If he was a crusty dinosaur, Babcock and Shanny would politely refuse. He was with Babs when they won gold in 2010 so I think he would be open to anything that helps increase the W total.

      Good move if it is true. The first leak from the Leafs if it is true.

    • Gary Empey

      This brings up an interesting point. What about a poll or article regarding people who think analytics are a great assessment and those who have concerns that the data produced places the incorrect value on a player.

      Just as an example, here is a quote from Panthers head coach Gerrard Gallant

      “One of our players was our top analytics player and I couldn’t stand watching him on the ice. He was our top analytics player and I didn’t like the way he played one bit. So some of it is really good, but some of it you can’t get fooled by it”

  • Leafydudetwitter

    This feels off. Three assistants already, which is the standard. Why get a previously retired head coach in an already well stocked coaching staff? I was under the impression the assistant coaches the leafs would be looking for were young, up and coming bright hockey minds other teams would pull away for draft picks. Don’t see that happening here. What is the value? Surely one of the three can implement a defensive structure.

    • Harte of a Lion

      Depends on the recipie, I see him in a similar role to what he had in NJ. A part time advisor to Lou and the group. Don’t forget, everything needs Shanahans approval.

      The only reason I would have doubts is that it’s a rumor, and the rumor mill around the team has been tighter than a virgin on her wedding night!

  • SEER

    This would be great, but for now, I’ll treat it like a leak about UFO’s from the National Enquirer…

    Until I hear things officially from Leafs Management (ESPECIALLY in the off-season, when reporters will say just about anything to get noticed).., I’ll take this this as a possibility.. and nothing more..

    Lemaire is smart cookie, though.. and he would only add to our ever-growing base..

    EDIT: Just love to be proved wrong, when it is good news..!! He’s hired..! : )