NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey Devils fired rookie coach John MacLean on Thursday and brought back Jacques Lemaire to replace him.
The Devils have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NHL this season. New Jersey is tied with the New York Islanders for the fewest points in the league with 20 in 33 games (9-22-2).
The Devils play at home against the Islanders on Thursday night and Lemaire is expected to be with the team.
The Devils, a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference, were expected to be among the leaders again this season after signing All-Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100 million contract in the offseason.
The 65-year-old Lemaire, who retired after leading the Devils to the playoffs last season, will be in his third stint as New Jersey's coach. He guided the franchise to its first Stanley Cup in 1995.