By Michael Russo
I spoke with Wild assistant coach Mario Tremblay this afternoon, or actually former Wild assistant coach Mario Tremblay. As expected, Tremblay said he’s moving on and will be leaving Minnesota.
Tremblay said he was informed by Wild GM Chuck Fletcher he didn’t make the short list of candidates to be head coach. He was disappointed but completely understood Fletcher’s decision. He said he’ll move on and look for another job. Rumors in Montreal are that he’ll join Jacques Martin’s staff as an assistant. Tremblay said he hopes that is the case, but he said he’s spoken to nobody with the Canadiens.
He said he had a wonderful nine years in Minnesota and wanted me to make sure to thank the fans. On a personal note, just a great dude to deal with for my purposes. He was a walking cartoon character.
He said he hopes Mike Ramsey’s not in the same boat. Ramsey is also in the last year of his contract, and he said he very much hopes the new coach retains Ramsey and that he deserves to stay. If Ramsey is not retained, I know for a fact Tampa Bay wants him as an assistant. But with young kids and roots here, I’m not sure Ramsey’s going to chase jobs or be willing to uproot his family from Minnetonka.
Bob Mason and Matt Shaw have one year left on their deals, Tremblay said, and like I’ve been writing on here, I think they have a tremendous chance of staying.
Mason has done an extraordinary job as the Wild’s goalie coach, and most smart new head coaches don’t mess with a goalie’s goalie coach without talking to that goalie, in this case Nik Backstrom. You should have heard the other end of the call in the summer of 2004 when I called Roberto Luongo during his honeymoon in Hawaii to get reaction about Clint Malarchuk being fired. Luongo’s response, “What the $^#%% did you just say?”
Oh, that Jacques Martin.
And trust me, from somebody that sees the behind the scenes of the Wild, Shaw made this coaching staff tick. He does all the legwork and video work and lots of the gameplanning. He’s a bright, young guy.
Also, I spoke with Edmonton Journal hockey writer Jim Matheson today. Craig MacTavish hadn’t spoken publicly since he was let go, but Jim got MacT on the horn today. He wouldn’t comment on my report saying that he has been interviewed by the Wild, but he said he wants to coach again and won’t sit out forever.
Of the candidates I’ve reported, MacTavish knows the Wild better than any of them just because he’s coached against them six to eight times a year since 2000. Of course, since I began covering the team, the Wild had his number, too. MacTavish is considered a pretty defensive coach — not Jacques Lemaire defensive — but defensive. But he likes aggressive, up-tempo play, too.
I’m sure MacTavish had an impressive interview. If you know him, he’s a very engaging, personable, well-spoken guy, so I’m sure he charmed them.
OK, that is it for now.