In a surprise move on Friday morning, the Minnesota Wild fired coach Bruce Boudreau, who was in his fourth year with the team. During his tenure, the Wild failed to reach the second round of the playoffs, missed the postseason last year, and currently sit three points out of wild card spot this year.
Assistant coach Dean Evason is rumoured to be named the interim coach.
My initial reaction is this is a terrible, terrible decision by Minnesota management, namely Bill Guerin. Last year, the Wild traded away Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Charlie Coyle in an effort to shed salary and get younger. That took away two top-6 wingers and a third-line forward. They went into this year with a top line of Parise-Staal-Zuccarello, with an average age of like 53. Their depth was filled with unproven guys like Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway, and Ryan Donato. Jason Zucker's role was diminished, and I'm still not sure what was going on there. But, all the same, this was a polarized team with an aging, expensive core and a lot of cheap players without a track record. Expectations were low.
As of Friday, the team was just three points out of a playoff spot and in the last month have wins against Tampa Bay, Dallas (x2), and Vegas. They sit seventh in the league in expected goals percentage at 5-on-5, just behind the Boston Bruins. They're 10th in 5-on-5 scoring and mid-pack by goals against. They're 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. He had this team, filled with aging veterans and unsure youngsters, playing well and near a playoff spot.
The real problem in Minnesota, as has been the case for years, is a lack of true game-breakers. For opposing coaches, who is the guy on the team that would scare you? Zach Parise, who turns 36 this summer, or Kevin Fiala, the guy with one 20-goal season to his name? This is a team that has been playing with a mantra of Sum Greater Than The Parts for years now, but sometimes teams need a special part to steal games. They don't have a player who can do that.
As for what Dean Evason will bring, it doesn't really matter. I don't mean to sound flippant, but Boudreau is one of the best coaches in the league. Anyone who reads my work knows I don't say that lightly. This is a gigantic mistake for Minnesota, and the team can only get worse. I hope I'm wrong because I don't enjoy seeing teams dismantle themselves, but it's really hard to see any coach coming in and doing more with this roster.