When Jacques Lemaire decided to leave the Wild, I was the first to thank him for his time here. He was given the shaft by "he who shall no longer be mentioned." He was given sub-par players and forced to play kids that had no place being in the NHL, let alone having any ability to play at the highest levels in the NHL. His executive team, especially his GM, gave him no support or help with the on ice product. In short, he was screwed.
So Jacques packed it up and walked away, saying he no longer felt he could reach the players. Just a couple weeks after, he was mentioned in the hunt for a coach for the Devils, a team he coached to a Stanley Cup. I did not press the issue then, but if you no longer feel you can reach the players in Minnesota, why can you reach the players in New Jersey? We'll revisit that later.
Tonight, Russo posted this tasty treat.
"You know what? You know what? They'll play the same way. They will play the same way," Lemaire said after being announced as one of Mike Babcock's assistants on Canada's 2010 men's Olympic hockey team. "You know why? Everybody plays this way. Detroit's a little different. But look at all the other teams.
"It's 95 percent defense. It's the details that are different, but that's about it. So what do you want to change?"
What do we want to change? How about for our coach to understand the game as it is played today, and not the way it was played in 1962. What do we want to change? How about a coach who allows players drafted for their offensive ability to be allowed to use some of it, instead of being converted into checking line forwards. What do we want to change? How about allowing the center to make a play from now on. To use your own words coach, "95 percent" of the NHL allows their centers to play the position of, wait for it, CENTER.Rather than being a third man back the entire game, how about allowing the center to roam and make a play?
Lemaire, a two-time Jack Adams Award winner as coach of the year, gives new coach Todd Richards one week, maybe a month, next season before he pulls back the reins.
Lemaire used Atlanta, Florida and Tampa Bay, all three of which had new coaches last season, as examples. The Wild swept the three during an October trip, including a 6-2 pummeling of the Panthers.
Coach Richards and Mr. Fletcher never said they are going to convert the defense to forwards (oh wait... Lemaire tried that too). They have never said that they are going to adopt an offense only, screw the back check type of system used by the Southeast. They have never said that they plan to trade away the best defensemen on the team in order to land more offensive talent as Tampa did last off season. Brent Burns will still be expected to play defense, but he also will be expected to move the puck forward quickly and make a play rather than dunping the puck in and skating back to his own blue line. Kim Johnsson will be allowed to show some of the flair he showed in Philly before joining the Lemaire system and being converted to a stay at home defensemen.
The defensive corps will be required to make offensive plays. Ala Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and the rest of the top tier of the league. They will be allowed to take a risk, knowing that the ENTIRE team is required to back check instead of just the center and d-men.
I will not for one second tell you that other teams don't play a trap. They do. But somehow they find a way to do so without putting their fans to sleep.
"They're saying it's a defensive team and I'm a defensive coach and this and that," Lemaire said. "We'll see what they'll do if they play all offense and you guys can compare. You know what's happening? They have to say they plan to bring something new to the fans. They can't say we'll try to do the same thing. But come on. I don't buy it."
Good thing you don't have to coach. We do. And we are. Again, no one has said even one time that they plan to play only offense. Watch the pressers will ya coach? Read the newspapers, watch the press conferences, read the internet before you make such a ignorant comment.
You are right coach, the new guy can't come in and say we are going to do the same thing. The do have to say they will bring something new to the fans. This would be something you know nothing about. "New" is a word that scares the living bejesus out of you Mr. Lemaire, now isn't it? Hopefully New Jersey doesn't bring in any rookies or you may have to actually coach them instead of just screaming at them.
Remember in my last post when I mentioned I was fiercely loyal? Well, I am. I also am the type of hockey fan that doesn't take kindly to former players and coaches bad mouthing the new players and coaches. I am the type of guy that says hockey people should take the high road. When asked about the new Wild system, could Mr. Lemaire have not said "I'm not the coach there anymore, I wish them and their fans the best?"
Coach Lemaire just fell down about seventeen pegs in my book. I thanked him for his work when he left. I will not rescind that thanks. He did a wonderful job with little help from above. However, these little digs at the new system bug me. They are low brow and unnecessary.
Take your sour grapes somewhere else coach. We don't drink much wine here in Minnesota, though we do make some fine cheese to go with yours. Until you prove that your defense only system works, you can take your comments about offense based systems and shove them in your breezers.
Thanks for your work while you were here, coach. Now go away.