Jacques Lemaire would be, in several ways, the perfect coach for the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils.
He commands respect, both as a Hall of Fame player and as a coach with the Stanley Cup ring. He knows the organization and the tenets of Lou Lamoriello hockey. He managed to turn this ill-fitting collection of high-priced veterans and talented young players into a winning hockey team during the second half of last season.
Most of all, he's a short-term solution for a win-now team, whose legendary goaltender is in the last year of his contract.
All of these reasons factor into why Devils fans had been hounding Bergen Record beat writer Tom Gulitti with questions about Lemaire and the potential for him to come back for one more season with the Devils.
Gulitti went to the source, and got a definitive answer from the former New Jersey coach:
With the general manager Lou Lamoriello dragging out the decision to hire Lemaire's successor, some viewed that as an indication that Lamoriello might be trying to convince Lemaire to return again.
Lemaire says that is not the case. "I'm waiting for Lou to make his decision," Lemaire told me via phone this afternoon. "I'm excited like the fans, I guess, to find out who it's going to be."
Lemaire said he has no idea who it will be, but knows for certain who it won't be. "It's not going to be me," he said.
The Devils could announce a coach next week, and one has to believe it's down to Lou Lamoriello's Montreal Canadiens fetish vs. his appreciation for nostalgia.
The Habs Fetish options are Guy Carbonneau and Michel Therrien, both of whom have been linked to the Devils vacancy.
The nostalgia option might be Larry Robinson, the former Devils head and assistant coach who ran the team's developmental camp this week and another short-term solution. Because when pressed for a solution, Lamoriello has been known to go with what he knows.
Just ask Lemaire.