The New Jersey Devils are once again looking for a new head coach with the announcement Monday that Jacques Lemaire's second tenure is over after just one season.
The Devils said via their Twitter feed that Lemaire had announced his retirement from coaching. He will stay on with the organization in a role yet to be determined.
Lemaire was brought back for a second stint as the Devils' coach after playoff disappointments in recent years, but the club once again followed up a strong regular showing with an early post-season exit.
The second-seeded Devils were eliminated in five games by No. 7 Philadelphia last week. General manager Lou Lamoriello said in the aftermath of the defeat to the Flyers that he hoped Lemaire would be back.
"It's not the team, it is not the result or the lack of result we had in the playoffs," a glassy-eyed Lemaire said. "It's not that at all. It's the end of the line. I'll be 65 [in September]. It's just time."
New Jersey, the three-time Stanley Cup champions between 1995 and 2003, has won just six of its last 22 playoff games, and hasn't advanced beyond the second round since the lockout.
Lemaire was coach for the first championship for New Jersey in a five-year tenure with the Devils. He stepped down in 1998, saying "it was just time."
Since then, eight different men have coached the Devils, including Lamoriello.
'I didn't see that coming'
Lemaire spent eight seasons as head coach for the Minnesota Wild before his return to the Meadowlands.
"I didn't see that coming," goaltender Martin Brodeur said about Lemaire leaving coaching. "I think Jacques has a lot of passion for the game, and he showed it all throughout the year and the playoffs, and I think that drive was there. It seems to be there, but he knows it better than anybody and you have to accept what he wants to do."
Lemaire has a regular-season coaching record of 588-441-60, with 124 ties. He won the Jack Adams Trophy as top coach in the league with both New Jersey (1994) and Minnesota (2003), and served as an assistant coach with Canada at the Vancouver Olympics.
Lemaire is in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player, recording 835 points in 853 games with the Montreal Canadiens while playing on eight Stanley Cup teams.
Since the end of the regular season, Atlanta and Tampa Bay have fired their coaches and have yet to fill the position. Columbus is reviewing the position, with interim coach Claude Noel a candidate after Ken Hitchcock was fired.