Leafs add Jacques Lemaire as “Special Assignment Coach”

Yesterday we had some news out of Montreal that the Leafs had contacted Jacques Lemaire, one of the most well-recognized coaches in league history, to join their bench as an assistant. Today the team made it official, adding Lemaire as a special assignment coach.

The first thing running through everyone’s mind is “This has Lou Lamoriello written all over it”, and obviously that’s warranted – Lamoriello and Lemaire have a ton of history going back to New Jersey. But there is a link to Mike Babcock as well, if we look at the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, where Lemaire served as an assistant while Babcock headed up things on the gold medal winning squad.

Here’s what Babcock had to say about the hire today:

“Obviously Jacques Lemaire has a wealth of experience. We had a great relationship from the 2010 Olympics and I’ve asked him to join our staff to help me and the rest of our coaches within the entire organization be the best they can be”

Pretty cliche stuff, but it seems the Leafs wanted to make it clear Babcock reached out to Lemaire to help out. 

Apparently the two have been well-acquainted for a while, going back nearly twelve years, as Babcock noted when Lamoriello was hired a couple weeks back.

“I didn’t know Lou at all until ’03 when we played them and I was coaching Anaheim. We lost to Jersey in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Since that time, I’m not trying to say we’re best friends or anything like that, but we developed a healthy relationship and a respect. I got to be good friends with Jacques Lemaire, had Jacques on my 2010 Olympic staff. I used Jacques as a sounding board, talked to him a lot about Lou.”

As for “special assignments”, I don’t know exactly what that will entail. Based on the quotes from Babcock, it seems like Lemaire is more of a coach of coaches, an advisor, more so than a hands-on assistant who deals directly with players. But that relationship will obviously be clearer when training camp and the upcoming season get underway.

Lemaire, as a head coach, is 12th all-time in games coached at the NHL level, with 1262, with a points-percentage of .563 which ranks him 19th among coaches with 600-or-more games behind the bench (from Hockey-Reference).

Games W L T OT Pts%
1 Scotty Bowman* 30   2141 1244   573 314 10 0.657
2 Toe Blake* 13 914 500 255   159    0.634
3 Mike Babcock 13 950 527 285 19 119    0.627
4 Joel Quenneville 19 1375 754 438 77 106 0.615
5 Claude Julien 13 860 470 278 10 102 0.612
6 Fred Shero* 10 734 390 225 119 0.612
7 Ken Hitchcock 19 1322 708 429 88 97 0.606
8 Glen Sather* 13 932 497 307 121 7 0.602
9 Alain Vigneault 14 970 520 341 35 74 0.592
10 Dave Tippett 13 950 488 332 28 102 0.582
11 Peter Laviolette 14 841 436 307 25 73 0.577
12 Emile Francis* 13 778 388 273 117 0.574
13 Randy Carlyle 10 704 364 260 80 0.574
14 Pat Burns* 14 1019 501 353 151 14 0.573
15 Billy Reay 16 1102 542 385 175 0.571
16 Michel Therrien 11 674 337 246 23 68 0.568
17 Al Arbour* 23 1607 782 577 248 0 0.564
18 Darryl Sutter 16 1121 547 404 101 69 0.564
19 Jacques Lemaire* 17 1262 617 458 124 63 0.563
20 Bryan Murray 17 1239 620 465 131 23 0.563
21 Bob Hartley 13 862 428 321 61 52 0.562
22 Lindy Ruff 18 1329 652 494 78 105 0.559
23 Dick Irvin* 27 1449 692 527 230 0.557

  • SEER

    Just love to be proved wrong, when it is good news..!! : )

    I’m going out on a limb.. and will say that we now have “THE” BEST coaching and management staff in the whole NHL..!!

    WOOOO-HOOOO..!!

      • SEER

        Much appreciated, Harte..!

        If I could just get You-Tube/ Google to read my tags closer, though… Since June 1st (and all the videos loaded since that time) I stepped up to a 960 x 540 LARGE format with my videos.. and they don’t seem to be coming across that way..? (at least, not from what some posters have told me..) They do look better, but I’m wondering why it doesn’t embed at that number..?

        But.., I’ll keep messaging them every once in awhile.. Does anyone ever get a reply from messaging Google, in here..? I never have..

  • SEER

    Something is wrong with your table as Carlyle is shown with a higher P% then Lemaire. I refuse to accept this as being accurate in the reality I occupy

    Then again, as cappucino might be supportive of – maybe we could hire Randy to advise our coaching advisors (and toaster repair men)?

    • SEER

      good lord even the dinosaur therrien is ahead of lemaiare.

      anyone using this data to make themselves feel better about the move is probably coming to the right decision for the wrong reasons.

    • SEER

      Yeah.. I have to agree, 3P…

      It’s nice to see Babcock at number 3, though.. : ) Maybe that should have been high-lighted, too..?

      I also wouldn’t have RC above Irvin, Ruff, Burns and Arbour.., but, hey… It’s just one person’s opinion… , from Hockey-Reference… Stats only tell a small part of the big picture.., imo…

  • SEER

    Lemaire had a very solid career with Montreal as he often centered a couple guys named Shutt and Lafleur. He was often a candidate for the Lady Byng but there was nothing soft about his desire to win.

    I only met him indirectly one occasion. Lemaire was with the Habs management years ago when the Canucks were still playing in the Pacific Coliseum. When ever the Habs came to town, the old Habs jerseys would come out of the closet out here in Vancouver. Half the crowd would be Hab fans very similar to when the leafs came to town. Btw nothing has changed.

    A bench emptying brawl occurred as Mario Tremblay speared Stan Smyl. Fights broke out all over the ice. But after the usual shenanigans of fighting on the ice, the tired players started watching the numerous brawls in the stands between Canuck and Hab fans. I was sitting in an area on the Renfrew side of the building just above where the opposing team executive members would often sit. As I walked down the aisle, I noticed Lemaire had the aisle seat. I leaned over and said Jacques I remember when the Habs had class as they had instigated the major brawl.

    I kept walking down to the concourse. When I came up Lemaire had gone and as I sat down in my seat with my friends, I was informed that Lemaire had taken a swing at me and just missed as I had kept walking.

    The last thing I needed was to be in a brawl with Hab management even though being a leaf fan I had no lost love for the Habs.

    I always wondered if Lemaire had continued throwing punches what would have happened as I was younger and 6 inches and 40 pounds bigger.

    But thank goodness it didn’t happen.

  • STAN

    Just as Shanahan mentor Lou was brought on in more of a consulting role, another New Jersey connection comes in on retainer.

    Lemaire’s job? Probably whatever he can do from home, or traveling around on the Leafs dime to “advise” the organization’s various coaches about HIS experiences as a coach.

    Waste of money. But follows the age-old tradition of rewarding your buddies.