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Devils Coach Apologizes to Media

May 6, 1998

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Jacques Lemaire should know by the end of the week whether he wants to return as coach of the New Jersey Devils.

Lemaire held a brief telephone conference call on Tuesday to apologize for giving an interview with a newspaper on Monday after refusing to speak with the media earlier in the day as the team cleaned out its lockers.

``Last night, I’m not sure why, but for some reason I got weak, or I tried to help the person make a story,″ Lemaire said of his interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark. ``I talked to him and I don’t know why. I felt that it was just not fair, and I want to apologize to all the media.″

In the interview, Lemaire criticized the media for personal attacks on him in the wake of the Devils’ stunning first-round elimination by the Ottawa Senators. It marked the second straight year that New Jersey has been eliminated early in the playoffs after finishing with the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference.

The postseason problems have led to speculation that Lemaire, who led the Devils to a Stanley Cup in 1995, won’t return as coach next season, even if he wants to come back.

Owner John McMullen and general manager Lou Lamoriello were unhappy after the team lost to Ottawa.

``The only thing else I can say is that probably in a couple of days, two to three at the most, I will be ready to talk to all the press about my future,″ Lemaire said in ending the conference call. He fielded no questions.

Lemaire and Lamoriello saw each other on Tuesday, Devils spokesman Rick Minch said, but he added that he didn’t know if they discussed Lemaire’s future.

Lemaire, who played on eight Stanley Cup champion teams for the Montreal Canadiens, has a 199-122-57 record in five years with the Devils.

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