Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said today that he has been in New Jersey the last three days looking at videotape and getting ready for the start of training camp -- his first with the team since 1997.
Lemaire was hired to replace Brent Sutter as head coach on July 13..
The Devils' rookies report for training camp Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. The veterans report on Saturday.
Among the biggest questions heading into camp is who will center the Devils' second line. Lemaire said he does not have an answer yet.
"That, we're not there, yet," Lemaire said before the team's alumni golf outing at Upper Montclair Country Club. "I want to see what's on the ice first. I want to give the chance to the guys that are here and I'm sure Lou will look at that too and see who does well and then we're go from there, It's a little different when you're going to an organization that you don't know the players, most of them. So I have to see them. I have to see them play and talk with them and see what they can do and see their talent and then after that you find out we need this, we need that,we have to improve this position or that position."
Lemaire said he thinks it is difficult for a wing to shift to center.
"If they are capable of doing it , I have no problem (with it)," he said. ""But you don't see too many of those. I didn't see in my career too many guys that were wingers and turned out to be a good center. It's so different. You can ask any center. It's a totally different game. Wingers are going. You want them to go on offense as much as possible. The center, they have to be a little more responsible."
That said, Lemaire believes that left wing Patrik Elias, who played center in 2007-08, is capable of making the move.from left wing to the middle.
"Elias is a guy that could play center," he said. "He's good enough for that."
In fact, Lemaire said, he "probably" will look at Elias at center during training camp.,
Elias was not among the players participating in today's golf outing.
Lemaire said that the coaching staff -- assistants Mario Tremblay and Tommy Albelin, special assignment coach Scott Stevens and general manager Lou Lamoriello have already begun discussing the possible line combinations.
Lemaire touched on several other subjects today. Among them were.
**On being excited to be back with the Devils and the start of training camp: "We were talking about this on our way here, Mario and I. It's a good, a change. It gives you energy. You need a change. It's like players at a certain time. It's fun. We've got a good start. All of our planning at the start and how we want the game to be played, it's good. Scotty's there. He tells me what the team was doing good, like the power-play breakout as an example. We don't want to change that because it was good last year. So, we'll keep the same thing. The penalty kill, he says we could be a little better, so we're going to work on that, try to find maybe another system you want to put in. It will be a little different, but maybe we'll get more success out of it. Little things like that. Defensemen around the net. I know myself I noticed that some defensemen could be better there, so we'll work on that. Little stuff like that.
"Let's face it, this team had a great season last year so they must have done something good. So I want to keep this, I don't want to change what was done and they had success with."
**Brendan Shanhan and Brian Rolston are the only players Lemaire has had a chance to talk to so far. He plans to talk with captain Jamie Langenbrunner before the start of the season.
**Lemaire on what's he's been doing since arriving in New Jersey: "Work on the camp. Looking at tapes and getting all the preparation. We'll show the guys what they did well last year, which we don't want to change, and look where they can improve."
**Former Devils defenseman and special assignment coach Scott Stevens will be on the ice with the players during training camp. "After that we'll talk again, but I asked him already that I'd like to have him (on the ice) as much as possible," Lemaire said.
Lemaire also plans to be on the ice from the start of camp. "I don't have good knees, but to go on the ice, I think I can."
**Veterans and rookies will be mixed together in the three groups during training camp. "We'll have three teams," Lemaire said. "We'll have one practice first and then we'll have a scrimmage with the other two teams. And then everyone will have one practice and then everyone will have two scrimmages before the first (preseason) game (on Sept, 16 vs. the Rangers)."
**On whether Brendan Shanahan is capable of being more than a fourth-line player: "I hope more, definitely"
**The Devils have changed back and forth between the center going behind the net to get the puck in the defensive zone and not. Lemaire believes in letting the defensemen get the puck behind the net.
"Defense today are good enough to carry the puck," Lemaire said. "They're good enough skaters. Why are you going to have the center go there? In the old days you had this frequently. Every team was doing it. The center goes automatically behind. In our days, we'd go and get it because the defensemen were not as mobile. They were not as good with the puck to make plays. But, now you look at the defensemen and any of them could play forward. Not center, but they could play forward."
**Lemaire had hoped to speak with Sutter when he was is in Calgary for the Canadian Olympic camp two weeks ago, but Sutter was not there.
Here's the full list of those participating in today's alumni golf tournament.
Current players: Travis Zajac, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brendan Shanahan, Dainius Zubrus, Zach Parise, Jay Pandolfo, David Clarkson, Colin White, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Brian Rolston, Yann Danis, Jay Leach, Mike Mottau, Andy Greene, Rod Pelley.,
Alumi/coaches: Jacques Lemaire, Mario Tremblay, Scott Stevens, Tommy Albelin, Chris Terreri, Kevin Dean, John MacLean, Aaron Broten, Laurie Boschman, Tom Chorske, Grant Marshall, Ken Daneyko, Troy Crowder, Jim Dowd, Bob Hoffmeyer, Shawn Chambers, Bruce Driver, Rob Skrlac.
I hope to have some of the results from the outing later.
**Zajac said he got back from his honeymoon to Maui on Aug. 29. He was married on Aug. 15 in Winnipeg.
**Parise on participating in the U.S. Olympic orientation camp three weeks ago: "It was good. It wasn't too strenuous. It was more just meeting everybody. We didn't scrimmage. Just drills and conditioning."