Sports Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Jeff Ransom run set for SaturdayP>

The sixth annual Jeff Ransom Memorial Fun Run will be held Saturday at the day use area of the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area.

Registration starts at 9 a.m., while racing starts at 10 a.m. The race is five kilometers of walking, biking or running. There will be a barbecue immediately following the race and music and volleyball in the afternoon.

For more information, contact Geralynn Ransom at 262-0642 or Mike Morgan at 262-6548.

Solstice Fun Run draws 44

A total of 44 runners participated in the City of Kenai 2000 Solstice Fun Run Saturday night in Kenai.

Nikiski's Mario Bird was the overall and adult male winner on the five-kilometer course. Bird covered the distance in 18 minutes, 52 seconds. The adult female winner was Kenai's Jenni Mishler, who crossed the tape in 21:59.

The first child finisher was Soldotna's Marci Mohler in 21:59, while the first dog finisher was "Zoey" Duke, who took 38:42.

Finally, although the race was only five kilometers, three Soldotna High School runners decided to run the course twice. Andy Liebner, Brent Knight and William Keller II finished in 41:16, well ahead of some of the walkers completing the five-kilometer course.

Call of the Wild: Lemaire hired by Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jacques Lemaire has won Stanley Cups as a player, a coach and in the front office. Now the Hall of Famer faces a new challenge: directing an NHL expansion team.

''This is a brand new team. I know that I will have to be patient, the fans will have to be patient,'' Lemaire said Monday after being introduced as the Minnesota Wild's first head coach, ''but I'm telling you, we will win our share of games.''

Lemaire, 54, won eight titles in 12 seasons as a player, all with the Montreal Canadiens. He was an assistant general manager when Montreal won the Stanley Cup in 1986 and 1993, and coached the New Jersey Devils to the 1995 championship.

He resigned as Devils coach after the 1997-98 season, and spent the past two seasons as a consultant to Canadiens general manager Rejean Houle.

Now Lemaire, known for an effective if dull neutral-zone trap defense, is reunited with Wild general manager Doug Risebrough, a teammate when the Canadiens won four straight Stanley Cups from 1976-79.

Their relationship played a big part in Lemaire's decision to accept the Wild job.

''It's not the fact that we were pals,'' said Lemaire, who was the league's coach of the year in 1994. ''I think it's the fact that we played and I knew exactly how he thinks, what he wants, how he wants a team to be, what's important on a hockey team. ...

''(Risebrough) and I share the same commitment and patience necessary to develop young players and we understand the devotion required to win the Stanley Cup.''

The two had long discussions at Lemaire's home in Sarasota, Fla., in April, in which they discussed coaching theories and the challenges facing an expansion team.

''When (Risebrough) approached me, I was really excited,'' Lemaire said. ''It's funny -- when we spent a couple of days in Sarasota, I thought he wanted me because he wouldn't have taken a plane to come down and see me. But I really realized when he called me the week after. He really showed me he wanted me.''

Lemaire has had his eye on returning to an NHL bench and said he considered overtures from several teams.

''As soon as I left coaching in New Jersey,'' he said, ''I started to go to the arenas and look at the players and I started to regret a little bit the coaching part because I said, 'Why don't I coach, because I know I can do this type of job and do it well.'''

Lemaire has not studied the list of players available in this week's expansion and entry drafts, and he knows the time until the season starts will be extremely busy.

''The biggest challenge is probably first to pick the right people,'' Lemaire said.

Risebrough said he and his staff have been working for the past nine months on evaluating players, so Lemaire won't be integrally involved in the draft.

''We'll be able to select the players, and he'll be able to coach the players,'' Risebrough said.

Lemaire knows the Wild's early days could be a struggle.

''I don't want to lose,'' he said. ''I think that I have enough patience to work with the players. I want the guys to give what they have to give, do what they do best.''

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