Maple Leafs add Jacques Lemaire to coaching staff

(Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Jacques Lemaire as a special assignment coach, the team announced Friday.

Lemaire has coached 1,262 games (617-458-124-63) in his career split between the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild. The 69-year-old has spent the last six seasons in the Devils organization, most recently as a special assignment coach, where he worked with new Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello. He has some experience coaching beside Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock.

“Obviously Jacques Lemaire has a wealth of experience,” Babcock said in a press release. “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.”

Lemaire, a two-time Jack Adams Award winner and Hockey Hall of Famer, won eight Stanley Cups as a player with the Canadiens and coached the Devils to a championship in 1995.

Reports first surfaced that Lemaire could possibly join the Maple Leafs earlier this week. Devils beat writer Tom Gulitti asked Lemaire Thursday if it might be bizarre working for the Maple Leafs since he has such a storied history with the Canadiens.

“I’ve been away so long that the only guy that is still involved there that I know well is [Canadiens head coach] Mike Therrien and [assistant coach] J.J. Daigneault, who I coached,” Lemaire told Gulitti. “But, besides that. [Canadiens GM] Marc [Bergevin] looks like a real nice guy, but I never really knew him before. I knew him because he was involved with Chicago and as a player, but not personally.”

Lemaire is the newest member of a totally revamped Maple Leafs coaching staff. In June, the team named Jim Hiller, D.J. Smith and Andrew Brewer as assistant coaches.

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