When Jacques Lemaire resigned as head coach of the Devils following the 1997-98 season, he never thought he would coach the team again.
Eleven years have passed and Lemaire is back for a second stint after Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello named him as head coach today, filling the vacancy created when Brent Sutter stepped down nearly five weeks ago.
"I never thought I would be back," Lemaire said today. "I said at that time that I was leaving that I just had the five years and it was five years that I loved and I wanted to cherish for the rest of my career and my life. I never thought that one day I would come back. But I guess the situation right now is perfect for me and we want to go on with it."
Lemaire will turn 64 on Sept. 7, so it is a natural question to ask how long he plans to continue coaching. I asked specifically if he intends to coach more than one season and he said, "Yes it is."
Beyond that will probably depend on how things go.
"People that know me, I go on and when I see that it fits and when I see that it's time to go, I can't stay," he said. "So, I don't know how long."
Lemaire stepped down as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild in April, but said he never ruled out returning to coaching for another team.
"After the season, I never did close the door on coaching," Lemaire said. "I just said that my time in Minnesota is over and it's time to go on and do something else. Then, I watched, like many other coaches, all of the playoffs and I guess I heard a lot of ex-coaches say often it's really hard to get out of this because we love the game and it's exciting and it's fun and that's what I got watching the playoffs. I said, 'Well, I might go back' and when Lou called me I was excited, especially that it's a great organization. There's great people working for the organization and the organization is going in the right direction and being part of this is real exciting for me."