Wild fire first GM

First the coach, now the general manager.

Outgoing Minnesota Wild Head Coach Jacques Lemaire at a news conference. General Manager Doug Risebrough is at right.

MINNEAPOLIS — First the coach, now the general manager.

The Minnesota Wild announced Thursday that Doug Risebrough won’t return next season as GM, the surprise move coming less than a week after coach Jacques Lemaire resigned.

That means the Wild’s two architects since its inception are gone.

Owner Craig Leipold said in a statement that the search for a new GM will begin immediately. Assistant general manager Tom Lynn will take over until a replacement is hired.

In a note from Leipold posted on the team’s website, the new owner of the franchise told fans that it was a “very difficult decision not to renew Doug Risebrough’s contract beyond the 2008-2009 season. I have agonized over this decision for some time now, but ultimately, I reached the conclusion that change was in order.”

Risebrough didn’t immediately return a phone message.

Former owner Bob Naegele hired Risebrough in 1999 to build the expansion franchise from the bottom up. Risebrough hired his former Canadiens teammate Lemaire to coach the team, and together they helped the Wild quickly assert itself as a competitive organization.

It took just three seasons for the Wild to make the playoffs, which included a stunning run to the Western Conference final in 2003. The team won its first Northwest Division championship last season, but injuries contributed to the team missing the playoffs this season.

Risebrough drew some heat for letting players like Brian Rolston, Pavol Demitra and likely Marian Gaborik leave in free agency, rather than get anything in return through a trade. The Wild have also been mediocre in the draft, trading picks and failing to cash in on others.

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