Former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire is leaving the door open to a return to coaching in 2009-10 and possibly coming back to the Devils.
Although Lemaire, who will turn 64 in September, did not return a phone message I left for him earlier this week, he called back Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Thursday (Mike does an excellent job on his blog at http://blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/wildblog/).
When Russo asked him if he's going to return to the Devils, who he coached to their first Stanley Cup in 1995, Lemaire replied, "I can't talk about that. There's nothing done yet. There's nothing that I can talk about right now."
Lemaire told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he has not spoken to Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello about the team's coaching opening (as of Thursday), but admitted he is intrigued by it -- to a point.
"I want to know all [that] comes with it, you know?" he told the Pioneer Press. "What type of job, the salary, where I'm going to work from, how long -- this and that."
Lemaire that if he wants the job and he doesn't hear from Lamoriello, he might pick up the phone himself.
"If [Lamoriello] doesn't call and I want it, it's me that's going to call," Lemaire told the Pioneer Press. "I have to ask permission from the [Wild] because I'm under contract [until July 1]."
Lemaire also is rumored to have been offered an consultant position with the Montreal Canadiens. He recently turned down an offer to be a consultant with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lemaire appeared to be done with coaching when he stepped down after nine years with the Minnesota Wild in April, but says he still hasn't made up his mind whether he wants to coach again.
“That’s the thing I haven’t decided," he told Russo. "After the season, I thought I was going consultant so I can be with the kids and the grandkids. But as I mentioned at that time, I’m not closing the door on coaching. I’ll look at the two options, and if I’m going to be busy, I’m going to be busy. So maybe I want to coach. We’ll see.”
Lemaire had said previously that he'd like to work with a GM he knows and Bob Gainey in Montreal and Lamoriello both fit that bill. From the sound of things, Lemaire at least is intrigued by the idea of returning to the Devils, but he's not going to say that outright.
One thing I've learned through the many coaching searches the Devils have conducted over the years is that no one who is a candidate for the job is going to speak to the media. If they do, they will no longer be a candidate. Lamoriello likes these things to be done quietly. If word leaked out that someone is talking to Lamoriello, that might be enough to end their candidacy.
So, don't expect to read a lot of concrete information anywhere about this search for Brent Sutter's replacement.
Here's some things we know for sure so far.
**Former Carolina and Islanders coach Peter Laviolette interviewed recently for the Wild coaching opening. San Jose assistant Todd Richards, who has a relationship with new Wild GM Chuck Fletcher from their time together in the Penguins' organization (Richards was the head coach in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before Dan Bylsma), still appears to be the frontrunner right now.
Laviolette, who has two years left on his contract with the Hurricanes, also did not return a phone message I left for him earlier this week. The Devils would have to be granted permission from the Canes to talk to him.
**Marc Crawford is no longer an option after he was hired Thursday to replace Dave Tippett in Dallas. I don't think Crawford was ever going to be a candidate for the Devils anyway. There would have been some question about his relationship with Martin Brodeur after Crawford told Brodeur on the flight to Nagano in 1998 that he would not be playing in any of the games for Canada in the Olympics because Patrick Roy wanted to play every game.
**Tippett is a possible candidate now after losing his job in Dallas and, I think, would be a pretty good fit here. He is known as a players' coach, but he also is a straight shooter. The Devils would need permission from the Stars to speak with him. That probably wouldn't be a problem. Dallas wouldn't mind getting out of the remainder of Tippett's contract after signing him last summer to an extension through the end of 2010-11.