SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.
-- The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Minnesota Wild announced today that Head Coach Jacques Lemaire, the only coach in franchise history, is stepping down. The announcement was made at a press conference at Xcel Energy Center.
"Our gratitude toward Jacques is immeasurable," said Wild President and General Manager Doug Risebrough. "On the June 2000 day he accepted the head coaching position, our team had yet to hold a single practice and yet we were a winner, because few in this game have embodied winning like Jacques Lemaire. His values -- deep passion and respect for the game, a peerless commitment to team success, an unfailing work ethic, and resolute attention to detail -- became our team's values. His innate teaching skills put our players in position to succeed and shaped Minnesota Wild careers and seasons."
Lemaire just completed his ninth year as Head Coach of the Minnesota Wild. He was named the first-ever Head Coach of the club on June 19, 2000. Prior to joining the Wild, Lemaire spent parts of two seasons as a Senior Consultant to the General Manager for the Montreal Canadiens, the franchise with which he captured 10 of his 11 Stanley Cup championships. He owns a career head coaching record of 540-414-177 (.556) in 15 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons with Montreal, New Jersey and Minnesota. Lemaire has taken nine of the 15 teams he has coached to the postseason, and had a lifetime Stanley Cup playoff record of 60-52 (.536). Lemaire ranks ninth all-time among coaches and third among active coaches with 540 wins, and eighth overall and third among active coaches with 1,131 games coached.
Lemaire, 63 (9/7/45), guided the Wild to a 293-255-108 record (.529) during its first eight NHL seasons, including a 171-98-58 mark (.613) at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild’s 293 wins in its first eight years are the most of any of the nine NHL expansion teams since 1991. He led the Wild to its sixth straight winning campaign in 2008-09 with a 40-33-9 record – the Wild’s third straight 40-win season – and coached in his 1,100th game on Feb. 6, 2009. On April 3, 2008, the same night Minnesota clinched its first ever Northwest Division Title, Lemaire became the 12th coach to reach 500 wins. He is the only person in NHL history to play in 800 games and coach in 1100 and the first person to compete in 100 or more Stanley Cup playoff games as both a player (145) and a Head Coach (112).
In 2006-07, Lemaire led the Wild to a 48-26-8 record, setting franchise records for wins (48) and points (104) and won his 200th game behind the Wild bench on March 11, 2007. The Wild reached 200 wins faster than all but nine of the active franchises in the NHL and the fastest since the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers entered the League in 1979. In 2002-03, he led the Wild to the Western Conference Finals and was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy, as the NHL’s top coach, for the second time in his career.
Minnesota’s total of 95 points in the 2002-03 season ranks second all-time amongst third-year NHL teams and the 22-point increase was the third largest increase in League history. During the 2001-02 season, the Wild remained the lone undefeated team through the first six games of the regular season, which marked the best start for a second-year franchise in NHL history. The Wild set an expansion team record with a nine-game home-unbeaten streak (5-0-4) and finished with the seventh-highest point total (68) for an expansion club in NHL history during the club’s inaugural season.
The LaSalle, Quebec, native spent five seasons (1993-98) as the New Jersey Devils Head Coach compiling a record of 199-122-57 (.602). In 1994-95, he coached the Devils to their first-ever Stanley Cup title by going 16-4 in the playoffs, including a playoff record 10-1 on the road. In his first season with the team (1993-94), he was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy after guiding New Jersey to 47 wins and 106 points during the regular season. With Lemaire at the helm, the Devils also captured the first two Atlantic Division titles in franchise history (1996-97, 1997-98).
Lemaire began his NHL coaching career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1983-84 when he took over for Bob Berry with 17 games remaining in the regular season, and guided the club into the Wales Conference Finals. The next year, he coached Montreal to a 41-27-12 record and the Adams Division championship. Lemaire stepped aside as Head Coach following the 1984-85 campaign and moved to the front office where he held the position of Assistant to the Managing Director for seven of his last eight years with the Canadiens. During that same time, Lemaire held dual titles of Managing Director of the Fredericton Canadiens (1991-93) and Managing Director of the Verdun Junior Canadiens (1988-89). He played a role in both of Montreal’s Stanley Cup championships in 1986 and 1993.
Following his retirement as a player from the NHL in 1979, Lemaire began his coaching career in Switzerland where he served as player/Head Coach for HC Sierre. He returned to North America in 1981 and was named the first Head Coach of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) expansion Longueuil Chevaliers. In his first season at the helm (1982-83), Lemaire guided the team to the QMJHL Finals.
Lemaire played his entire NHL career with Montreal from 1967-79. He was a member of eight Stanley Cup championship-winning teams, including four straight from 1975-76 to 1978-79. He tallied the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in both the 1977 and 1979 Finals, becoming one of five players in history to accomplish the feat multiple times.
Lemaire was a teammate of Wild President/General Manager Doug Risebrough and Assistant Coach Mario Tremblay from 1974-79 and together they captured four Stanley Cups. The center recorded 835 career points (366 goals, 469 assists) in 853 regular season games, and netted 20 or more goals in each of his 12 seasons. Lemaire posted a career-high 44 goals during the 1972-73 campaign and registered a career-best 97 points in 1977-78. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.
Lemaire and his wife, Mychele, have three children, including two sons, Patrice and Danyk, and one daughter, Magalie, and five grandchildren – Jeremy, Xavier, Zachary, Emma and Kara.