Changes may belooming for Wild

By Jon Krawczynski

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — Jacques Lemaire says this offseason is like any other.

He says he will go home to Florida, speak with his wife Mychelle, meet with Minnesota Wild management, and decide whether he wants to return for another year behind the bench.

But as Lemaire discussed Monday what he called his "toughest season as a coach" in his 13-year career — a season in which he struggled at times to get his players to play as a team and watched the Wild get bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the second year in a row — something seems to be different.


"I’m getting older and maybe not as patient as I was when I started to coach," Lemaire said.

What concerns the 62-year-old most was a swoon in February and March that saw the Wild lose nine of 12 games, playing selfishly on the ice and straining their relationship with their demanding, no-nonsense coach. Yet they rebounded to finish strong and win the first division title in franchise history.

"It’s a season I haven’t seen in all my career," Lemaire said.

He was as good-natured and cheery as ever on Monday, wondering about what he is going to do with all the free time he has on his hands now and showing plenty of passion and energy for the game.

"It’s going to be a long summer," he said.

However, Lemaire’s face grew rosy and his voice strained with frustration when he described a conversation he had with an unnamed player about star winger Marian Gaborik’s performance in the playoffs. Gaborik was stifled by the Avalanche, held to one point in six games by the skilled Colorado defense.

The Wild led the series 2-1 after winning Game 3 in Denver, but Lemaire didn’t start to hear the public criticism of Gaborik’s disappearance until Colorado took a 3-2 series lead after Game 5.

The lesson? The only thing that matters is how the team fares as a whole.


"That’s why team is so important. And it’s so discouraging," Lemaire said, his hands in the air and repeating the word for emphasis, "discouraging for a coach when they don’t play as a team."

As Lemaire and the Wild head into another offseason sooner than they would have liked, they are enveloped in a fog of uncertainty unlike any other in the franchise’s eight-year history.

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