Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Wild fire Mike Yeo

Jeff Wegge

Coaching change comes amid latest extended slump

St. Paul – Mike Yeo took a long time before meeting the media following the Wild’s 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins Saturday afternoon.

He probably understood that he might never again stand behind the Minnesota bench as coach of the Wild in front of a typical full house at the Xcel Energy Center.

If that was his thinking, he was correct.

The Wild, mired in a horrific stretch that included eight straight losses and 13 of its most recent 14, fired Yeo later Saturday.

“I would like to thank Mike for the hard work and dedication he provided behind the bench for the Minnesota Wild organization and wish him the best in the future,” said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher in a statement released by the team.

Earlier, Yeo made a yeoman effort to say the right things.

“I’m a realist,” he said after the game, adding that a team “can’t lose every game and expect that there’s not going to be a change.”

Whether that change affects the roster or the coaching staff, Yeo admitted that something must be changed.

“We need a response,” he said, “because that was not good enough.”

Before the news leaked out, players dodged the obvious question about their coach’s future.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Thomas Vanek said.

“It’s not up to us,” Zach Parise said. “It’s not up to the players; it’s not fair to ask any players that. It’s not our decision.”

Fans – there were 19,191 at the X on Saturday — expressed their displeasure with scattered booing during one of five unsuccessful Wild power plays as it become clear that the Wild are on the brink of falling completely out of the playoff race.

Yeo said he expected a positive response Saturday, especially on the heels of his team playing strong in in a 4-3 loss to Washington and a 4-3 overtime loss to Dallas earlier in the week.

“I’m not going to try to pretend like that was good enough,” Yeo said, adding that he was “very disappointed” with how the Wild responded.

Vanek’s goal midway through the second period tied the score 1-1, but a fluky shot by David Krejci that hit a sliding Nino Niederreiter in the chest and was carried into the net to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead just 35 seconds later.

“That seems the trend,” Vanek said. “We work so hard to finally get one and get this crowd into it, and we take the crowd out of it pretty quickly again.”

The Wild appeared close to tying the score again before Loui Eriksson’s breakaway goal made it 3-1 at the 6:58 mark of the third period.

The Wild had no response.

“We were not close to good enough,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “They were better in every aspect of the game.”

Yeo, 42, replaced Todd Richards to become the Wild’s third coach in 2011. He finished with a record of 173-132-44 but won just three of 19 games in 2016, leading to his dismissal.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reported Saturday night via Twitter that Iowa Wild coach John Torchetti will be named interim coach of the Wild.

After a difficult start to the season, Iowa is 10-6-1 in its last 17 games. Torchetti previously wore the interim label at the NHL level in Florida (2004) and Los Angeles (2006).