After seven straight losses in a row, the Minnesota Wild have fired Head Coach Dean Evason. The franchise has also relieved Assistant Coach Bob Woods of his duties. Former Nashville Predators Head Coach John Hynes was named the next Wild Head Coach. The change proves the organization is taking their losing streak seriously. However, coaching is just one of several issues for the Wild.
Dean Evason Dismissed
Evason replaced the fired Bruce Boudreau in the middle of season 2019-20. In his tenure with Minnesota, the Wild blew a series lead in all four of his postseasons. This season, Evason brought the Wild to 5-10-4 and 30th in the league. In his seventh season with the Wild, Woods coached the absent-looking defence and a power play unit that ranks last in the NHL.
The start of this season has been embarrassing for the State of Hockey. With relatively the same roster as season 2022-23, no one expected the Wild to make a run for the Stanely Cup in 2023-24. At best, Evason could have brought the team to another first-round exit. Yet, seeing Evason’s “gritty” team playing like a franchise willing to tank for a higher draft pick is not what fans predicted either. In the end, Evason failed to pinpoint the issues dragging this team down: “We’ve got to change something,” Evason said after Sunday’s loss.
John Hynes Set to Coach the Struggling Wild
Hynes has coached 602 NHL games and has a record 284-255-63 with the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators. As for the postseason, Hynes has never taken a team past the first round. However, Hynes was more successful at the AHL level with two trips to the conference final and was once named the league’s coach of the year. Now, Hynes will take on the task of being Minnesota’s seventh coach in Wild history.
Hynes will not take the vacant coaching position without inheriting the issues which dumbfounded Evason. The previous leading scorer for the Wild, Kirill Kaprizov, has only registered two goals this season. First-round-draft pick Matt Boldy has not played the same since returning from an injury. Goaltenders Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury are not performing up to standards.
Owner Craig Leipold and General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, Bil Guerin, have made it clear this season’s cap crunch will not sway the team away from competing for Lord Stanely’s Cup. The Wild firing the Head Coach is a sign Leipold and Guerin’s expectations for the Wild remain the same. Guerin acknowledges that Evason was not the sole source ailing Minnesota: “It’s that old saying: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink… [Dean] can’t go out and play for the guys. He can’t have them execute. They have to do that,” Guerin said.
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