The opportunity to work with Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock was too good for Jacques Lemaire to pass up.
Called the same day by the Toronto Maple Leafs' new general manager and head coach, Lemaire decided to take on the challenge of being the team's special assignment coach. In that capacity, he'll work with Babcock as he did at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and advise Lamoriello as he did with the New Jersey Devils.
"What I do is I look at the team, I bring suggestions on players," Lemaire said on a conference call Friday. "I bring suggestions on everything I see. It's like you're involved with the team the whole time, sometimes you're missing certain things. Looking from the outside not having that constant pressure, I think I can help quite a bit."
Lemaire spent 16 full seasons and parts of two others as an NHL head coach, and he won the Stanley Cup for Lamoriello's New Jersey Devils in 1995. He brings decades of hockey knowledge to the new-look Leafs.
"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."
The 69-year-old said his friendship with Lamoriello made joining the Leafs an easy choice. They had worked together the previous six years with Lemaire serving as coach and special assignment coach in New Jersey.
Lemaire joins Babcock's staff, which includes assistants D.J. Smith, Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer, goaltending coach Steve Briere and video analyst Adam Jancelewicz. Lemaire said he was looking forward to teaming up with Babcock again after helping him win gold in 2010.
"I feel he's the best coach around," Lemaire said. "It'll be a thrill to be able to assist him."
Lemaire's schedule is still up in the air. He expects to be at training camp and work with not only Babcock but AHL Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe and his staff.
"I think that Mike will ask me, any time he needs me close, I'll be there," Lemaire said. "I'll be watching all the games, making my reports, watching certain things that he wants me to look at.
"It's hard to say exactly. It's hard to say how many times I'll be (in Toronto). I think we'll go with the flow here."
Lemaire has 11 Cup rings — eight from his playing days, two as an assistant GM and one as a coach.