After the Wild's final game Saturday, Lemaire pulled the Twin Cities beat writers aside and told them of his decision. Monday, he and (hopefully outgoing) general manager Doug Risebrough held a press conference in St. Paul.
At the press conference, Lemaire, who has been around the sport for a few years, had some very nice things to say about Minnesota fans.
“The most important are the fans. Fans in Minnesota, you guys are unbelievable. You start a new franchise – we travel a bit and go into other cities. And you know guys are playing hockey there and you look at the crowds, a lot of nights its half full. And we come here and you people came in game after game – exhibition games – for eight years it was packed. And you know it’s the best environment that we could get as coaches, as players and we got that here. And the lifestyle that we had here is – I feel that it was really close to Montreal in certain ways. And I felt really at home here and I don’t want to get into this (meaning he was getting a little emotional there). I just want to thank you again because I really felt your support. Thank you.”No, Jacques, we thank you. Thanks for helping get this franchise off the ground, and giving the team of 18,000 something to cheer for every night.
That said, pat yourselves on the back, team of 18,000. A guy who has won many Stanley Cups and played many years in Montreal just compared you to possibly the most legendary single fanbase (Montreal Canadiens fans) in sports.
If that doesn't say enough about Minnesota's status as the State of Hockey, nothing will.