Babcock hires Jacques Lemaire
The Toronto Maple Leafs have made yet another hire in this, their summer of hiring and firing, and he is none other than former New Jersey Devils coach, and Montreal Canadiens star, Jacques Lemaire. The hiring was made by new head coach Mike Babcock and Lemaire is being called a “special assignment coach.”
Lemaire, 69, who also coached the Montreal Canadiens and was the first coach in the history of the Minnesota Wild, is known as a coach for creating the trap, a method of clogging up the neutral zone and preventing the opposition from mounting an attack with speed. He not only first brought it into consistent play in the NHL – he and his New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995 using that system.
Babcock and Lemaire worked together in 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, where they won the gold medal. In that arrangment, Babcock was also the head coach and Lemaire an assistant. The team did not utilize the trap.
“Obviously Jacques Lemaire has a wealth of experience. We had a great relationship from the 2010 Olympics,” Babcock said Thursday, “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.”
The rest of the newly-minted coaching staff consists of assistants Andrew Brewer, Jim Hiller, D.J. Smith, Jim Hill and Steve Briere, the club’s new goalie coach. Other changes invovled of course the hiring of Babcock himself and the jettisoning of star forward Phil Kessel.
Maple Leafs style of play
So does this mean the Leafs are going to play dull, trapping hockey? After all, Lemaire’s trap is a system former Boston Bruin defenceman, and NHL coach, Mike Milbury once said should be banned from the NHL due to its boring nature and the difficulty fans have understanding it. It’s the same approach former Detroit Red Wing, and Russian star, Viacheslav Fetisov said would “destroy hockey.”
Well, it hasn’t destroyed hockey, but to varying degrees it’s been used by other teams. Further, given Babcock is the boss and Lemaire an assistant, it’s not likely to be adopted by the Leafs, nor is there any indication Babcock is a fan of the system; his teams generally play exciting hockey.
But then as the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Babcock had a lot of talent, like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, at his disposal. Not so the Leafs, not yet anyhow. And they have been losing a lot and it would seem they have more losing to do before the winning begins. Or could the trap help the winning begin sooner?
After all, winning boring is better than not winning at all, no?