This morning, details are poruing out about Jacques Lemaire's semi-surprise announcement that he is stepping down as the coach of the Wild. The news spread across the internet as only the internet can do, but gave us few details. Lemaire also had waited for the cameras to stop rolling before making the announcement, limiting the information to those standing closet to him, including Tom Reid, and of course, beat writers Michael Russo and John Shipley.
This morning, there is an excellent article from Russo (we would expect nothing less), that goves some great quotes, and reports some news that unfortunately, we were not privvy to until now.
First he made it clear he was not retiring:
"It's exciting. It's an exciting job," he said. "I was behind the bench just before the game there, and I felt I was getting really tight because it's something I've done for 15 years and I like it and I have to go.
"I don't know what I'm going to do. I want to stay in the game, but I don't know what I'm going to do."
Russo then goes on to give us some quotes from Ken Hitchcock and Andrew Brunette that you can head over to the article for, but after that it gets interesting, real quick.
There is an entire section of the article titled "Tension with players." While we had always heard the scuttlebutt that players don't much care for Lemaire, we never had details. Now we do, at least to a point.
In recent days, players stood up to Lemaire in the locker room. At one point during a practice huddle Thursday, one veteran actually cursed at him in front of his teammates.
Players were disenchanted he didn't use Marian Gaborik on a 4-on-3 overtime power play in a must-win vs. Vancouver on March 31. In Dallas in March, players were furious the coaching staff took the bus back to the hotel while a dozen of them were left at the arena.
He has been in a rift with 20-year-old James Sheppard, one that came to a head in February when Sheppard asked Lemaire to loosen his grip.
I don't even know what to say to that, to be honest. it will take me a bit to let it sink in. I am not sure if I have more respect for Shep for standing up and saying something, or less for whining about it. Time will tell, I guess.
Seems to me, for all of the tidbits in this article, we would have heard about it sooner, but Russo is the consummate professional, and has no need to ruffle feathers.
In a classic, yet predictable line:
"There's not one guy I didn't have friction with, except maybe Bruno -- we were always on the same page," said Lemaire.
Bruno not causing trouble for the coach? The guy on the team most likely to be a coach? I would never believe that (end sarcasm).
One final bit from the article, and then you can head over and read Russo's work. Players complained frequently (again, we did not hear about it) about not getting enough days off, to which Lemaire replied:
"... I told him, 'Would it be nice just to play 82 games? Would that be nice? No practice. Could go shopping, could go check my insurance, shop for new cars?' That'd be a great life. But I don't know if it would work, though. Lot of L's."
To which Russo adds:
Interesting, eh? Who's "him?"
To that I ask, can anyone spell Gaborik? It's for an article I'm working on. No really, it has nothing to do with the line above... I swear it.
Anyways. Congrats to Coach Lemaire. You made this franchise the best it could be, given the ultra crap your GM gave you to work with. I hope you find somewhere else to coach, and I hope that GM does a much, much better job of fielding some talent for you.
Thank you for nine years of excellent coaching, even if some of the fans around town don't see it that way. You made the best of a bad team, night in and night out. For that, I will be forever thankful.