Home > Analysis > Can Langenbrunner and Lemaire Co-Exist?

Can Langenbrunner and Lemaire Co-Exist?

By now, news has spread that John MacLean was fired today. His replacement, Jacques Lemaire, has coached the New Jersey Devils’ twice. His most recent tenure, during the 2009-2010 season, resulted in a fantastic regular season. But a disappointing playoffs marred the success and drove Lemaire to retire.

After Lemaire’s retirement, several stories broke about the fractured Devils’ locker room. Several of the stories featured the disagreements between captain Jamie Langenbrunner and the coach. With Lemaire back behind the bench, one burning question presents itself: will Langenbrunner and Lemaire be able to co-exist?

Jacques Lemaire returns to the Devils bench eight months after retiring from coaching. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Langenbrunner didn’t elaborate on his previous relationship with Lemaire.

“We’ll see. Right?” the captain told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “You guys obviously wrote a lot about what that was like last year – some truth, some not. I respect him as a coach. I think he’s a very smart hockey man. We’ll do what’s best for the team. He’s a very good hockey guy.”

Langenbrunner’s displeasure stemmed over an incident against the Carolina Hurricanes on April 3. Lemaire made Langenbrunner travel with the team to Carolina, but made him a healthy scratch. He wanted to rest the captain before the playoffs. Langenbrunner wanted to play all 82 games last season and didn’t like the news. There was also rumblings that Lemaire attempted to re-assign the captaincy to Colin White, which didn’t sit well with the team.

Lines of communication broke down between the players and coaches last season. Several players took offense to the way coaches handled lineup changes. Players said coaches sent text messages to players notifying them if they were scratched for that night’s game.

Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello had no choice but to make a coaching change. New Jersey has 20 points through 33 games this season and is tied for last in the league. The team lacks 5-on-5 scoring and plays terrible defensive hockey. Under Lemaire last season, the Devils won the Jennings Trophy and finished second in the Eastern Conference.

Despite their contentious relationship, Langenbrunner believes Lemaire’s hiring brings a fresh start.

“I guess when you get over the failure part of it, you have a new start, a new beginning,” Langenbrunner said. “It’s a chance to start over and restart our season a little bit.”

Maybe even a chance to restart the relationship between captain and coach.

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For a full preview of tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, check out my game preview on SB Nation New York.

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