This one’s going to hurt for a while.

The Lewiston Maineiacs built a championship organization through deft drafting and wise acquisitions, employing the precise personnel to fit their system.

Even though those shrewd maneuvers left their dressing room awash with future NHL performers, the Maineiacs never experienced the usual pitfalls of that star power. On its way to a President’s Cup, Lewiston played on an unselfish autopilot that its bilingual victims flatly proclaimed boring.

Which was the ultimate tribute to Clem Jodoin, now that I think about it.

Jodoin, not surprisingly, stepped down from his role as mad scientist after three years well spent gradually leading Lewiston to the promised land of a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League crown.

Well, at least I wasn’t stunned to see him quit. A lifer on the frozen pond, Jodoin relocated south of the international checkpoint with tunnel vision toward etching one missing line on his hockey resume.

Mission accomplished. On to a new challenge. Jodoin has cemented his credentials as one of the greatest instructors the game has ever known. I’ll bet he builds something special in his new haunt, Rimouski.

And now the puck is in the Maineiacs’ zone. Just as it will be for the Patriots when Bill Belichick hangs up the hoodie after winning his fourth Super Bowl championship eight months from now. Same as it will be for the Yankees when Joe Torre tires of the bologna and tells King George, “crown thyself.”

The pieces are in place. The system is sound and resting upon a firm foundation. But let’s not forget whose pieces, whose system and whose foundation they were.

Not to overstate the obvious, but Lewiston’s next hire is the most important move in the history of the franchise. It’s a bigger deal than hiring Jodoin himself. The fan base has doubled since that day, and that constituency’s expectations are a Mount Katahdin higher.

It’s possible to piggyback greatness, but only if the rider of coattails is baptized in greatness, himself. Think Roy Williams as opposed to Ray Perkins. And unlike college sports, the price of picking the wrong guy here isn’t merely upsetting a few filthy rich, ancient alumni. It would mean testing the patience of the average Maine sports fan, who has proven time, and time again, that he or she will only show up at the yard when the home team is winning.

Clem Jodoin was the perfect man for a pivotal time. No pressure, Maineiacs, but the guy who signs a three-year contract to replace him had better score a hat trick.

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