Saying, "I think it's time for the team, the organization, to get a new coach," the only Head Coach the Wild has ever known announced that he was stepping down from the post he had served since the club threw open its doors to the State of Hockey.
Jacques Lemaire, who had said on Friday night that he had made the decision on his future but would wait to announce it, didn't wait long, instead letting Wild Radio's Tom Reid know during their postgame interview on Saturday. The Wild had just won its third consecutive game, and, despite missing the playoffs, Lemaire told Reid how the team was showing signs of playing the way he had "always dreamed" they could.
Reid, the Wild's radio analyst for games on WCCO 830, noted he had heard rumblings prior to the game that Lemaire was about to coach his final game in Minnesota.
You know, I still love coaching ... I want to stay in the game, that's for sure. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I want to stay in the game. - Lemaire
"Well, you're right," Lemaire said. "I think it's time for the team, the organization, to get a new coach [and] get a new voice. You know, try to bring this club to another level.
"When I first started," Lemaire continued, "[I] always said that there would be a time, a time that I'll have to go, and I'll see it, and I saw that time. And it's now."
During the short interview, Lemaire said he hadn't intended on staying so long in Minnesota, but the area, its fans and the hockey kept him coming around.
"First of all, I never thought I would stay this long," he said. "And I was pleased and surprised and impressed with the people, the fans ... same thing for my wife, because it's a place that she loves. I remember she was calling Minnesota her home. And, you know, it was great. It's sad to leave, but we have to do it."
When asked about how his players seemed to work for the fans, Lemaire said the following to Reid:
"This is something I learned through my career, through individuals -- you have to please the fans. And I mentioned this the other night after the game
, I was just happy to see the fans enjoying the game the way they did. I just wish we would have given them 82 games like this. I know it's impossible, but [the fans are] there every night, every game, and they were patient and supportive."
After thanking Reid, Lemaire concluded with another salute to the fans.
"Thank you," he told Reid, "and I want to thank all the fans, too, because you guys just made my ... not my day, but my eight years."
Lemaire is expected to officially announce his stepping down as Head Coach at a Monday press conference at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.