Michael Russo of the Star Tribune had a tremendous exit interview with former Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo, who was fired on Feb. 13 and replaced by John Torchetti.
It’s fantastic, and please do read the whole thing here. It confirms a few things we’ve speculated on – like the fact the Wild were all waiting for a trade of some sort to happen, to the point of being paralyzed emotionally – but there’s so much more.
We wanted to pull out two items that are rather interesting, beginning with the divide between the veterans and the younger players.
Do you think though that the younger guys eventually resented the older guys because the older players were never benched, scratched or put on the fourth line?
“I think that there was ... a disconnect. But this has gone on for a little while between older guys and younger guys. And I don’t think it’s one sided. I think every team in the league has some issues, and I think that we dealt with things fairly well for the most part, but obviously they became bigger once we started to lose.”
Can you be more specific about this apparent divide?
“No. It just felt like there were almost two groups. There were younger guys and there were the older guys. It wasn’t just a group.”
What’s fascinating about this is that John Torchetti is familiar with, and trusted by, those younger players who were on his AHL teams – Mathew Dumba, Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin and Charlie Coyle among them. So the Wild hire someone that the younger players feel will have their best interests in mind, after a stint in which they felt Yeo was playing favorites with the veteran players.
[Former NHL coach Adam Oates was hired before the season by several players as a personal coach; two of the players were Zach Parise and Ryan Suter of the Wild.] When you say things never felt right, did this start with the Adam Oates stuff?
“Yeah. I thought we dealt with it. We talked with Zach, and we had no issues with it after that. And talked with some players, and … Whether it’s something like that, whether it’s the trade rumors, whatever it is, when there’s things that might cause a little unrest, they kind of sit there and they hang out. When things are going well, they’re forgotten and pushed to the side. But when things don’t go well, quite often they come back.”
Did it bother you that Oates came to the Buffalo morning skate [Jan. 12]? That was at the start of the tailspin?
“I’m not going to even comment on it. But I would say, that I would not do the same thing.”
Now, before the season, Oates’ influence on Parise and Suter was explained away by Russo. “I received some Twitter questions asking what the Wild coaches felt about that, so I figured I should clarify one thing: This was not some sort of slap to the face of the coaching staff,” he wrote.
And when that “personal coach” – who, let’s remember, is looking for another NHL gig after he was let go by the Washington Capitals – shows up on the road at a morning skate?
Well, that wasn’t exactly kosher, apparently.
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