By CJ Carlson
Dean Evason is out in Minnesota
The Minnesota Wild have had enough with their underwhelming start to the 2023 campaign. They have recently announced that they will be firing their head coach Dean Evason. Not just that, they will also be parting ways with their assistant coach Bob Woods. As it stands, John Hynes is going to be the replacement, another coach with prior experience.
When asked about the decision to fire both of these men, their general manager Bill Guerin said, “Dean did an excellent job during his tenure with the Minnesota Wild, especially as head coach of our team. I am very thankful for his hard work and dedication to our organization. I would also like to thank Bob for his hard work during his time as an assistant coach with the Wild.” Evason was brought into the organization as an assistant coach back in 2018, with Woods coming into the franchise in 2017. Evason wound up being promoted rather quickly, just two seasons after he was hired.
With Evason as the head coach, he helped them get their best season in franchise history during 2021 when they finally surpassed the 50-win mark. They hadn’t been able to accumulate over 50 wins in a single season since 2000. They were just under the lead in the Central Division but ended with 113 total points. Unfortunately, the team didn’t get that far into the postseason, losing in the first round to the St. Louis Blues. To this day, the Wild have still been unable to win a playoff series since 2015, and they haven’t made it into the Conference Finals since 2002.
As of the news of the firing, the Wild are 5-10-4 on the season, not at all what they were hoping for during the offseason. They are also in the bottom five in regard to the rest of the league when it comes to goals scored and goals allowed. Of course, injuries to Jared Spurgeon and others don’t help, and neither does their combined goaltending save percentage of .878. Change needed to happen, and parting ways with their head coach was the first decision that they felt the desire to make in order to salvage this season before it got out of hand.
One thing that has seemingly been a problem has been their culture. The reason this has been mentioned is due to their random lack of defensive attention, which has been the opposite of what we’ve come to expect from them. Arguably their best player, Kirill Kaprizov, is on pace for a career low of 26 goals scored this year. On top of that, he’s got a team-worst –10 rating which shows that he might not be completely bought in and excited to defend the net.
Other defensive players on the roster haven’t played well in the back end either. Oh, and this is a group that didn’t have that much overturn in the past few seasons now. They have a group of players that helped them win 50 plus games on the roster, yet they’ve doubled their losses in comparison to their wins. They haven’t even won a game since November 7th against the New York Islanders, sitting on a seven-game losing streak.
This means that Hynes will be tasked with completely altering the season of the Wild from this point onwards. Weirdly enough, Hynes was let go by the Nashville Predators organization a season ago and happens to be under contract still. The only reason he’s being allowed to coach the Wild is because the Predators upper management has given their rivals permission to interview and hire him. I’m sure Hynes isn’t going to be opposed to getting paid by both the Predators and the Wild this year, which is exactly what is going to happen now that he’s hired.
It also means that he’ll be a head coach for the ninth straight season, getting fired by the New Jersey Devils in the middle of that span as well. Even though his track record isn’t always superb, his experience will be much needed. The hope is that he’ll return this team to what they were expected to be a few months ago and give them their confidence back in any way that he’ll be able to.