From all reports, new Minnesota Wild GM has begun narrowing his search for Jacques Lemaire's replacement as Wild head coach. Reportedly, former Gopher and current San Jose assistant Todd Richards is the frontrunner for the job. Other candidates mentioned have included Pierre Page, Craig MacTavish, Peter Laviolette, Newell Brown, Paul MacLean, Kevin Constantine, Mario Tremblay, John Torchetti, Kevin Dineen and Scott Arniel.
Not mentioned yet, but who seems to be a viable and qualified candidate is former Minnesota North Star and two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oilers Don Jackson. After a 10-year NHL and CHL playing career as a defenseman (315 career NHL games, 16 goals, 52 assists, 640 penalty minutes), Jackson has been behind the bench for several NHL, ECHL, IHL and European teams for 19 years and counting. A graduate of Bloomington Kennedy High School and Notre Dame, Jackson is currently the head coach of the Eisbären Berlin in the German Ice Hockey League.
Jackson began his coaching career as the head coach of the Knoxville Cherokees (ECHL), followed by a two-year stint as an assistant with the Quebec Nordiques. He went back to the minor leagues as a head coach for three years in the IHL and CHL before returning to the NHL in 1997-98. For the next seven seasons, Jackson was an assistant coach with Pittsburgh (1997-2000), Chicago (2000-01) and Ottawa (2001-04).
The NHL lockout in 2004-05 forced Jackson to a coaching role in Europe. Page, then the head coach in Berlin, hired Jackson to coach defensemen late in the 2004-05 season. Jackson then became the head coach of the DEG Metro Stars in Dusseldorf, Germany, before heading back to Berlin as the head coach for the 2007-08 season. With Jackson behind the bench, Berlin has won the past two German Ice Hockey League Championships.
An offensive-minded coach, Jackson seems to be a strong candidate for the Wild opening. He's a Minnesota native, a former NHL player and a successful veteran coach with loads of experience. Fletcher would be wise to give Jackson a look as the search continues for Lemaire's replacement.