Thursday, April 16, 2009
Jacques Lemaire Leaves WILD
Head Coach - to date, the only head coach the Minnesota NHL Wild has known - Jacques Lemaire announced earlier this week that he is leaving the Wild. MPR:
As hockey goes, Jacques Lemaire is practically a one-man dream team. While a player with the Montreal Canadiens, he helped win eight Stanley Cups, two of them with his own game-winning goals.
After retiring as a player, Lemaire took up coaching and led the New Jersey Devils to yet another Cup.
In 2000, he started a franchise from scratch when the Minnesota Wild took the ice for their inaugural season. But Lemaire has decided he's had enough.
"The team needs this," he said at a news conference in St. Paul today.
Lemaire talked about his departure just days after his final game as coach in Columbus, Ohio, where his team beat the Blue Jackets, 6-3.
"It's not that I cannot go back and work with them, and try to push them again," said Lemaire. "That's not the case. The case is I know this thing will be better with another guy."
Lemaire's record with the Wild was 291-256, with 107 ties, including winning records in his last six seasons.
Lemaire's career as a player is none too shabby. Our History: The Montreal Canadiens:
A strong skater and creative playmaker, “Coco”, as he was known to his teammates, also had a booming shot that he used to great effect. He scored 22 goals and assisted on 20 others, posting respectable if unspectacular numbers for a rookie.
...Lemaire didn’t take a backseat to anyone. One of the NHL’s all-time greatest “money players”, he has three overtime goals to his credit, among them the Cup winner in 1977.
Lemaire’s last NHL goal was the 1979 Stanley Cup winner. Only five others have scored more than one.
His playoff numbers are even more impressive. Lemaire is seventh in both goals and assists and his 139 career playoff points are second only to Jean Béliveau on the all-time list.
One of the game’s top strategists, Lemaire began his coaching career behind the Canadiens bench before moving to New Jersey where he had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1995, this time as head coach. In 2000, Lemaire was hired as the first-ever head coach of the expansion Minnesota Wild.
Jacques Lemaire was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.
If his wish is to remain coaching in the NHL - and why wouldn't it be - whichever NHL team and city gets him, know this: you are getting one hell of a fine coach and an impeccably classy and intelligent man.
Wild fans have nothing but respect and thanks for Mr. Lemaire. We wish him success in whatever the future brings. The only time we will be against him is if he is coaching a team playing opposite the Wild. But we won't disrespect him. We love him. We'd have no problem with him staying on. But he wants to move on, he says it's better for the team. What did I say about impeccably classy?
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