Lemaire Exit Will Not Surprise
Jacques Lemaire will resign as the Minnesota Wild’s coach after this
season, according to a knowledgeable NHL source who spoke to Sports
Headliners on condition of anonymity. “Everybody I talk to thinks
there’s a good chance he will leave,” the source said.
Lemaire, who has coached the Wild since
the franchise’s first season in 2000, seems more frustrated than in the
past. “He’s never before been so openly critical of players,” the
source said. “His frustration is showing through.”
Lemaire coached two other NHL teams before
taking over the expansion Wild whom he has directed to three playoff
appearances. “His history is, when he doesn’t feel comfortable he just
leaves,” said the NHL insider who has pro hockey front office and
The Wild are struggling this season after
winning the Northwest Division last year. Goal scoring has been an
ongoing frustration and so too has the absence of injured All-Star
Marian Gaborik who has played in only six games.
The Wild’s record is 27-22-3 with 57
points. The team is tied with Columbus for eighth place in the eight team playoff race in
the Western Conference. There’s speculation as to whether the team can make
the playoffs but the source said a deep post season run could change Lemaire’s mind about next season.
He doesn’t doubt the possibility,
referring to Lemaire as an “amazing” coach who can revitalize teams.
The NHL insider said many players around the league regard Lemaire as
the best coach because he instills confidence and can sometimes convince
players to master the subtleties of defensive play.
Even though he highly regards Lemaire, he
thinks it’s probably best that after eight seasons he moves on, bringing
change with a new coach. The source said most coaches are tuned out by
their players after five years but Lemaire has had a much longer run
because of his reputation and ability.
Who would replace Lemaire? The source said
he doesn’t know, nor does he have a feel for how much input owner
Craig Leipold will have in the decision. It’s known that Leipold
values input from the fans and many want a Wild team with more offense.
As for Lemaire’s future, the NHL insider
thinks the 63-year-old will not coach again. He said Lemaire has other
interests besides hockey and will have no problem walking away from the