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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

High-profile hires are a rarity among Minnesota's major league coaches

We look at the hiring of the high-profile Tom Thibodeau as the coach of the Timberwolves as quite a departure for owner Glen Taylor, although in a way it goes along with what he has done previously in this decade.

Rick Adelman, a long-serving NBA coach with a resume that will get him to the Basketball Hall of Fame, was hired in September 2011 to take over when the NBA lockout ended.

If Adelman was coming in with full power to make personnel decisions, the public might have been more revved up by this hire. The fact David Kahn still held that responsibility as president of basketball operations caused skepticism to remain high with Minnesota’s basketball fans (and for good reason).

Flip Saunders came in as Kahn’s replacement in May 2013. He waited a year to take over the coaching duties from Adelman. Plus, Flip’s familiarity to the Wolves and to Minnesota made it less of a dramatic event than the hiring of Thibodeau as a coach with full personnel power.

Add it up and I rate Thibodeau at the top of list for national profile when hired as a Timberwolves’ coach.

Also: If I trace Minnesota’s major league era to 1961, I would put only two coaching hires ahead of Thibodeau’s with our pro teams in national profile, and both arrived with expansion teams.

The first coach on such a list would be Jacques Lemaire. It was a surprise to the public that the Wild was able to secure Lemaire – legendary player, legendary tactician, already the coach of a Stanley Cup champion – to launch its product.

The second coach would be Norm Van Brocklin, hired to lead the expansion Vikings for 1961, immediately after being the MVP quarterback of the champion Eagles. Minnesotans were stunned at what we thought was good fortune.

Bud Grant, successor to Van Brocklin? Nationally, hiring a coach away from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers came with the sound of one hand clapping.

Herb Brooks was a huge name when hired by the North Stars. Still, he was a Minnesotan and as with Flip's return, there was no surprise when Herbie was hired by the North Stars. It also turned into a one-season failire and bitter parting.

Gene Mauch was the highest-profile managerial hire by the Twins in 1976. Billy Martin was not yet certified as a dugout madman when hired for 1969 (only).


Coaches with a national profile when hired by the Gophers:

Lou Holtz, football (1984-85). The ability of Harvey Mackay and others to put together a deal to bring Holtz here remains the most-dramatic coaching hire of all in Minnesota.

Tubby Smith, men’s basketball (2007-13). “Tubby, Tubby, Tubby.’’ It sure sounded good on that April afternoon as he was introduced in Williams Arena.

John Kundla, basketball (1959-1968). He coached  six champions (five NBA, one NBL) with the Minneapolis Lakers before returning to his alma mater. Gophers basketball was integrated (Lou Hudson, Archie Clark, Don Yates) with John as coach.

Reusse: Wild certain to win Sunday and force Game 7, and here's why

The underdog Minnesota Wild will defeat Dallas on Sunday and a force a seventh game that will be played on Tuesday night.

This can be guaranteed on the basis of something more significant than the Stars’ shaky goaltending. This can be guaranteed due to the fact the Timberwolves have scheduled a 4 p.m. news conference that day to introduce their new basketball decision-makers:

Tom Thibodeau, president of basketball operations and coach, and Scott Layden, general manager.

This is guaranteed because any news made by the Timberwolves – tragic or triumphant – is sure to be trumped within a short time by other major news.

The Timberwolves made the announcement around noon on Sunday, Oct. 25 of last year, that Flip Saunders, the president and coach, had died from complications of Hodgkin’s disease.

This came as a shock to the vast majority of Minnesotans who had been shielded from information on Flip’s declining condition.

We should have spent days on the sports front – and in the Twin Cities, in general -- discussing little more than Flip’s legacy as a basketball legend and a Minnesota presence.

And then on Tuesday morning, fewer than 48 hours after we learned that Flip had died, the Gophers’ popular football coach, Jerry Kill, announced he was retiring due to complications with his epilepsy.

Certainly, the media continued to lament Flip’s passing, but the thunderbolt on Kill took over the front page.

I’m not suggesting this was a publicity issue for the Wolves – simply that there was much more for the team to say about the loss of their leader that was suddenly sharing the local news and sports cycle with Kill’s retirement.

The Timberwolves went through a season of progress with a young roster. It also was a 12th straight season without reaching the playoffs, and owner Glen Taylor decided to go big. He let Sam Mitchell know on the last day of the season that he would not be back as coach, and a week later, Taylor had Thibodeau signed as his basketball boss and coach.

The Timberwolves made the news official with an announcement on Wednesday night. It was late and much more attention would be given to Thibodeau’s arrival on Thursday.

And then we found out that Prince had been found dead at Paisley Park that morning.

Thibodeau’s hiring became yesterday’s news, even though it hardly had been discussed yesterday.

The new coach has done a few interviews. There have been discussions, articles and comments on Thibodeau. Yet, the Wolves’ big move was overwhelmed in the purple avalanche of news surrounding Prince’s death at age 57.

Presumably, things would be relaxed a bit on this front by Tuesday and Thibodeau’s first impression at the introductory press conference would receive much attention.

Except, it’s the Timberwolves, so the Wild will win Sunday, and it will be playing that Game 7 later Tuesday night in Dallas.

This is guaranteed because otherwise the Twin Cities might be talking and big headlines being written about the Timberwolves, and that can’t happen.