The Wild Annual Slump
It has been a while, perhaps I was suffering with the regular Minnesota Wild slump, because as sure as night follows day; a Minnesota Wild slump under Mike Yeo just had to occur.
And boy was it a bad one, this time it cost Mike Yeo his job.
The question is why does it always happen and what is going on with Minnesota? The Wild beat writers are an insightful bunch, perhaps they have one of the best in the business in Michael Russo and following his interview with a departed Yeo, well it’s highlighted the real issue.
And an issue that ultimately Yeo; and possibly Fletcher created.
Parise and Suter signed, with that, the franchise changed overnight, Mike Yeo’s job changed, Chuck Fletchers job changed and the outlook of the Wild changed.
All this change bought play offs, it bought series wins, but this season it bought a disconnect, even when results were going well pre Christmas, something just wasn’t right.
At the end of the season when more comes out, it could be trade rumours, Adam Oates, the leadership, coaching, you could write a book on this. And if you want some of the best coverage on these stories follow Michael Russo on twitter or if you want one of the best podcasts around he does one on the male patter podcast network.
The point I’m looking at, is that Mike Yeo revealed that it was a locker room divided, old guys and young guys.
Now that is not hard to see and I think it comes down to rewarding people with ice time. John Torchetti, the interim head coach has said that’s one of the 2 things coaches control, ice time.
Mike Yeo didn’t control the ice time effectively. No matter how badly Vanek, Koivu and Pominville played, they were rewarded with power play time, they were rewarded with big minutes. I almost forgot to mention Dany Heatley, someone who should have been scratched numerous times and never was. The younger players were expected to take the next step but were simply never given the chance to, the glass ceiling was definitely above them.
If you want resentment, you want a divided locker room? Well this is how you do it; you give minutes by contract value, which is ultimately what has put the locker room in a funk, not just for this season but this could prevent this group from taking the next step.
Jason Zucker was on pace for a 30 goal season last year, what was his reward? Watch while the same people got powerplay minutes, be the whipping boy for Mike Yeo while Vanek skated around at his leisure. I think Mike Yeo is a pretty classy guy, in interviews and his general demeanour, but this was mismanagement, pure and simple. Does this mean he isn’t a head coach? No, I have a feeling we might see a successful Mike Yeo in the NHL in the future, one who has learned from his first big job.
And finally, Ryan Suter, how can a player decide when he comes off the powerplay? That’s right, during a powerplay Ryan Suter decides when he comes off. Ryan Suter is a whole new discussion to be had in the future.
The Torch or an external coach hire, they could rebuild the dressing room, this group could challenge in the play offs again. You never know, but there would appear to be underlying problems as of now, but winning can hide a myriad of sins.
Whether it be Yeo, whether it be Fletcher, this roster has been mismanaged, but now is the time to get it right, and the Torch seems to be doing a good job of that as of now.
I’d expect an interesting summer in St. Paul, as of now, as sure as morning follows night, I’ll be waiting for the next slump in the 2016-17 season.
Whoever is the head coach next season, they need to be the head coach, and they need to control that locker room. At the moment, it would appear the Wild’s core leadership group have been leading a bit too much.