Jacques Lemaire did an amazing job helping the Devils get back on track this year. The 65-year-old showed why he won 617 games in his NHL career and might have ended up in the Hall of Fame as a coach if he weren't already there as a player.
Considering how well the Devils played with Lemaire, it would have been great to see him come back for one more run. But now they move on and have to ask themselves the question:
Do they go young to pick up were they left off with John MacLean? Or find a vet that can continue what Lemaire started?
I've got one of each to review:
New: Kirk Muller -- The former Devils has done a great job as an assisstant in Montreal. He might be what the Devils wanted in MacLean, but better. He's ready and will likley land a team this summer.
Vet: Ken Hitchcock -- He won a Cup with the Stars. He also did solid jobs in Philly and Columbus. He fits the Devils defensive style and has all the required respect for Lou Lamoriello. The knock on Hitch has been that he was too hard on younger players. But I believe the 59-year-old has mellowed a bit and it might not be an issue.
The Devils can't go wrong with either. Both have Cups on their resumes, Hitch as a coach and Muller as a player. The Devils always seem to respond to coaches with established names. Thus the Cups with Lemaire, Larry Robinson and Pat Burns.
One door closes and another opens. Maybe this time the Devils will hire a coach that will stick.