Reports: Jacques Lemaire returning?

Updated: February 8, 2011, 12:52 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils interim coach Jacques Lemaire may not retire after all.

Lemaire told various media Sunday and Monday that he might be willing to return following the completion of the 2010-11 season. The 65-year-old had previously said that he would call it a career, regardless of how this season ended.

But Lemaire did an about-face while speaking with French media in Montreal before the Devils beat the Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday afternoon, saying: "We'll see about next year."

Had Lemaire opened the door to returning?

"I'm not opening nothing," Lemaire said Tuesday. "I came here to help the team, the organization and Lou [Lamoriello] so the guys play better. That's what I'm doing. When the season will be over, we'll sit down and talk.

"What I said is I'll finish the season and after that I'll tell them exactly what I'll be doing next year. I have an idea. But I had lots of ideas in the past and they change."

Lemaire replaced John MacLean who, with the franchise off to one of its worst starts in history, was fired 33 games into the season.

The Devils (19-30-4, 42 points) lost seven of their first eight games with Lemaire behind the bench but have since righted the ship, having won nine of their past 12. New Jersey is currently 16 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils have 29 games remaining to make up that seemingly improbable ground.

Lemaire, who was still under contract with the team as a consultant when he willingly accepted the interim position at the request of Lamoriello, believing it was the right thing to do, downplayed his change of heart.

"It doesn't mean nothing," Lemaire told the newspaper. "It means instead of talking now, I'll talk after the season.

"This is a good game. It's a fun game. So is golf. It's exciting to win games. It's fun. And when I play under 80 it's fun."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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