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Devils coach Lemaire going back into retirement

NHL.com @NHL

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jacques Lemaire is going back into retirement.

The Hall of Famer announced after the New Jersey Devils' 3-2 season-ending win over the Bruins on Sunday that he is bringing his coaching career to a close again.

"I'm going back where I was before," Lemaire said. "It demands a lot and I want to enjoy life. I want to enjoy the family."

The 65-year-old Lemaire, who retired after last season, said he made his decision about two days ago and told his team about it before the game. He added his love of the game hasn't diminished but it is time for him to leave.

Lemaire was somewhat matter-of-fact in making his announcement, unlike a year ago when he was very emotional in retiring after the Devils were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs.

"I still do think that I made the right decision last year, but I am really happy I took the job for the rest of the season," Lemaire said.

Lemaire came out of retirement before Christmas after rookie coach John MacLean was fired with the Devils stunningly at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

"At the time it was a huge challenge for me, and I thought the guys responded well," said Lemaire, who shook hands with referees Stephane Auger and Chris Rooney and linesmen Steve Barton and Tony Sericola before heading back to the locker room after the game.

After a slow start under Lemaire, the Devils staged a magnificent second-half run. Twenty-seven points out of a playoff spot in early January, they went 23-3-2 to draw within six points a couple of weeks ago.

The rally fell short and the Devils missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996.

"The only regrets that I have is not making the playoffs," said Lemaire, who guided New Jersey to a 29-17-3 mark in his third stint as the team's coach.

Lemaire coached the Devils from 1993-98, leading the team to its first Stanley Cup title in 1995. He was hired as the first coach of the expansion Minnesota Wild in June 2000 and coached them through the 2008-09 season. He returned to the Devils for the 2009-10 season.

A member of eight Stanley Cup championship teams as a player and two more in the front office with Montreal, Lemaire coached the Canadiens from February 1984 through the end of the 1984-85 season. He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach in 1994 with New Jersey and 2003 with Minnesota.

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