Jacques Lemaire coached the Minnesota Wild (18-15-5) for eight years, leading them to a 293-253-55-53 record. Lemaire also won the Jack Adams Trophy and brought the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2002-03.
But today's matchup with his former team holds no special significance.
"At this time, where we're at, I just don't look at the team we're playing," Lemaire told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "I have so many things to think about, I don't have time to think about the other team."
The New Jersey Devils will look for their first win of 2011 as they face off against the Wild tonight at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
The Wild may embody the perfect opponent for the Devils. New Jersey is 7-1-2 all time against Minnesota and currently hold a four-game win streak. They've scored 16 goals over the Wild in those four wins.
Despite a league-worst 10-26-2 record, the Devils have shown recent signs of improvement under Lemaire. The team scored at least three goals in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 10-12. Patrik Elias continues to produce, recording three points (one goal, two assists) in the five games Lemaire has coached.
Lemaire is beginning to see improvement from his team.
"It (the Devils season) went bad because you keep losing and you dig yourself a hole. And you're losing again and you're losing again and you keep losing and that hole becomes too deep to get out," Lemaire said to Gulitti. "That's exactly where we were. We're starting to climb now. That's why we need everyone to chip in and to get out of it."
The Devils took a step backward in a 6-3 loss on New Year's Day to the Carolina Hurricanes. Martin Brodeur continued to struggle, allowing three goals on seven shots before being pulled only eight minutes into the game. Johan Hedberg stopped 15 shots in relief and took the loss.
With his future Hall of Fame goalie struggling, Lemaire will give Hedberg the start tonight against the Wild.
"I went with Marty (in Carolina), didn't win," Lemaire told Gulitti. "Come back with him (Hedberg) and we'll see after."
Hedberg wouldn't read into his second start in three games.
"Not more than I'm getting prepared to play the game tomorrow," Hedberg told Gulitti. "That's all my focus is. I want to play as good as I can to try to get a win."
Hedberg is 4-1-0 with three ties and a 2.00 goals-against average against Minnesota.
The Wild, winless in New Jersey, have won two of three games after defeating the Phoenix Coyotes, 6-5, in overtime on Sunday. Andrew Burnette recorded two goals, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard tied the game with 26 seconds left. Bouchard also assisted on Cam Barker's game-winning goal.
Even with his past history coaching the Wild, Lemaire believed solely focusing on them would hurt the team.
"If your team is not working and that's the main problem, even if you talk about the other team and what they're doing, is it going to help?" Lemaire said to Gulitti. "It won't help. You have to get them to work first. You've got to get the guys to skate before we're going to talk about the other team. (We) talk about is and what we're going to do to be successful."